Freemasons are blocking reform, says Police Federation leader

Reform in policing is being blocked by members of the Freemasons, and their influence in the service is thwarting the progress of women and people from black and minority ethnic communities, the leader of rank-and-file officers has said.

Steve White, who steps down on Monday after three years as chair of the Police Federation, told the Guardian he was concerned about the continued influence of Freemasons.

Critics of the Freemasons say the organisation is secretive and serves the interests of its members over the interests of the public. The Masons deny this saying they uphold values in keeping with public service and high morals.

Fortune Magazine reports women received 2.2% of venture capital in 2017

Female founders received 2.2% of venture capital funds in 2017 according to research published by Fortune Magazine, and that actually represents a bump on previous years.

Data collected by PitchBook shows that all-women teams received just $1.9 billion of the $85 billion total invested by venture capitalists last year. By way of comparison, all-male teams received about $66.9 billion, or nearly 80% of the dollars invested, and the remaining funds were raised by mixed-gender teams, and/or teams where the gender of the founders wasn’t specified.

There is no way around these numbers without recognising that VC and the land of start-ups remain not merely dominated by men so much as drenched.

These are the big lies about women’s economic security: Are you angry yet?

Lie 1: Unpaid work is just cooking and cleaning – it has no economic value

Waring, who starred in the documentary Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex Lies and Global Economics, believes there’s great irony in putting a dollar value on “unpaid work” when international rules like gross domestic product and national accounts gravely undervalue the significance, impact and opportunity that this work provides to society.

In an attempt to give “authority” to the argument that unpaid domestic work – largely undertaken by women across the globe – is economically significant, Waring sought to estimate its monetary value. “[But I] realised that by inviting estimations of unpaid work, I was inviting us to give market values [according] to a system that said ammunition and wars are valuable, everything that devastated our seas and our air are valuable … I now don’t think that at all.”

“When you start putting dollar value on a polar bear as a species or the time people spend caring for kids, you strip away what we’re actually talking about.”

If Sweden and Germany can roll out “very generous” parental leave schemes that oblige both mothers and fathers to take time off, and New Zealand can establish universal basic income for its senior population to age with dignity, Waring challenges Australia to reflect on bigger ideas too.

Lie 2: Superannuation is universal

Australia’s superannuation industry systemically rips off women, said Denniss.

With the national gender pay gap averaging above 15%, Denniss said superannuation magnifies inequality between men and women even further.

Waring believes there’s a possibility for Australian women today to bring about legislative change through a class action lawsuit before the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) committee.

Any Australian citizen who has exhausted all domestic legal remedies can access CEDAW to trigger an international human rights obligation, she said.

No equality in the honours: two-thirds of Australia Day awards go to men

The gender imbalance in Australia Day honours continues, with only a third of 2018’s awards going to women.

This proportion in the general division of the Order of Australia has remained relatively similar for the past 20 years, according to figures available from the the governor general’s office, with no apparent trend toward equality.

Since the awards began in 1975, men have outnumbered women in almost all categories, with the exception of the library and disability categories.

The journalist Tracey Spicer, whose investigations have highlighted sexual harassment in the media and entertainment industries, said the honours imbalance demonstrated that society needed to value women’s work equally to men’s. She also pointed the finger at the gender mix within the Council for the Order of Australia, “which is by no means gender-balanced”.

“It’s disappointing … we need to nominate more women,” Spicer said. “After all, women do the bulk of society’s unpaid labour and volunteer work.”

The process for awarding honours is notoriously secretive and there have been numerous calls for increased transparency. In 2012 the federal court rejected a freedom-of-information request for documents pertaining to policy and criteria used in the awards process.

The Victorian government on Friday announced it would appoint a dedicated awards officer who will be tasked with putting forward an additional 200 nominations of Victorian women each year to address the gender imbalance.

Women get worse care after a heart attack than men – must they shout louder?

Women are getting worse medical care than men after a heart attack, resulting in unnecessary deaths, according to a new analysis of 180,368 Swedish patients, followed up for 10 years after a heart attack. When women were given optimal treatment (surgery or stents, aspirin and statins), they did as well as men.

There’s a subconscious bias at work that means if I see an overweight, middle-aged male smoker with a bit of breathlessness or chest discomfort in my GP surgery, I’m more likely to think “heart disease” and if she’s female to think “acid reflux”.

Men and women alike need to recognise the signs, seek medical help and demand prompt and optimal care. And it seems that, as in so many areas, women may need to shout louder to be heard.

We should make it illegal to pay women less than men. Progress is too slow in Australia

Iceland started 2018 with a bold statement. The Nordic country made it illegal to pay women less than men for similar work. The first thought that popped into my head on hearing the news was: bravo.

The second thought was: how soon can we get this rolled out in Australia? How soon can businesses here be forced to prove they value the labour of both genders equally? When will they face the financial and moral consequences if they don’t?

Some of the fictions I often hear include things such as women would “choose” to work part-time. Given that the 2016 Census once again showed that women do the bulk of unpaid caring roles in families, and given that men are paid more than women, it isn’t really a choice but a financial necessity for the higher wage earner to be in full-time work.

Another fiction is that women “choose” lower paying jobs, when research shows that when women move into an industry in larger numbers, their work is devalued and everyone is paid less. Another study shows that the higher the percentage of women in an industry, the lower its perceived “prestige”.

Volunteering doesn’t make the world a better place

[D]oes volunteering really help, or does it simply prop up broken systems? Is there a better way?

“It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a cake stall to buy a bomber.” This is as true now as it was in the 1970s. Why?

A lot of the volunteering we do is inefficient. Schools ask that parents bake cakes to be sold to the children of other parents who have baked cakes. Most school events involve sausages on white bread and fizzy drinks, which is not recommended as a healthy diet. Chocolates are sold in staffrooms to raise money for the children’s hospital. Rubber wristbands are sold by charities to raise awareness of illnesses. A fundraiser for the environment can sell unhealthy food one week, and a fundraiser for health can damage the environment the next. This is inefficient. Any effort to help one system should not be feeding into the brokenness of another.

Volunteering is not valued. . . . Volunteering is expected of people who are regarded as having the time to do it, that is, people who do care work at home, looking after their families, primarily women. Because women do care work their labour is not valued. If a job is valued it is rewarded with pay.

Read this before you have a baby (especially if you’re a woman)

It seems so obvious: having kids affects men and women differently. Sure, emotionally and financially but most clearly in the simple way mothers and fathers spend their time. And when you actually look at how 10,900 Americans carve up 24 hours, the conclusion is pretty stark: if you’re a woman who enjoys paid work or relaxing activities, having kids will cramp your style.

[C]hildren seem to take women away from the office but drive men towards it. . . .
[F]or women, having young children seems to add an extra two hours 10 minutes to their daily responsibility routine.

Charities criticise ‘bizarre’ appointment of Gary Johns as head of regulator

Gary Johns, a Labor minister under the Keating government, is known for his views that charities should not be allowed to advocate for changes to government policy and was head of NGOWatch at the Institute for Public Affairs, which investigated charities the IPA thought were targeting businesses.

Writing in the Australian in 2014, Johns said: “If a person’s sole source of income is the taxpayer, the person, as a condition of benefit, must have contraception. No contraception, no benefit.”

Appearing on TV with the rightwing commentator Andrew Bolt in 2015, Johns reportedly described Aboriginal women on welfare as “cash cows”. “Look, a lot of poor women in this country, a large proportion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as cash cows, right?” Fairfax Media reported Johns as saying. “They are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash. Now, that has to stop.”