Former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate’s appearance at the Senate inquiry on Tuesday was nothing short of explosive.
Ms Holgate claims she was unlawfully stood down by the chairman of Australia Post, after the PM told Parliament last year if she refused to stand aside during an investigation into the watches “then she can go”.
Ms Holgate defended her choice of gifts, arguing it was not out of the ordinary for a CEO to give gifts or bonuses to executives who had worked hard.
She argued she was being treated differently because of her gender. She pointed to “five-star luxury jaunts” to the 2012 Olympics, doled out by her predecessor, as an example of executive spending that was left uncriticised.
Ms Holgate said she also believed she “wasn’t popular” with Mr Di Bartolomeo and ministers because she opposed a confidential business strategy review conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, which argued Australia Post should be privatised.
It turns out that in the United States, the survival rate of infants, the most dependent age group of all, has gone way up during the pandemic. There are reports that premature births, one leading cause of infant mortality, fell significantly in the early months of lockdowns, when women in their final trimester of pregnancy were able to do something many of them cannot afford to do in normal times: Stay home from work.
Magistrate Wallington concluded that the acts did take place, but, applying the laws of 2014, they could not be proven to ‘a criminal standard’ and there was not enough evidence to prove McLachlan ‘understood he did not have consent’.
What Lederberg did was spend decades investigating the way micro-organisms share genetic material, trailblazing work at a time when scientists had little sense of what DNA was. So did her first husband, Joshua Lederberg, who died in 2008. Yet far more people have heard of him than of her, a disparity that some experts attribute to a phenomenon known as the Matilda Effect. The term, coined by scientific historian Margaret Rossiter, is a nod to 19th century suffragist Matilda J. Gage, who, as Rossiter puts it, first described the bias that has led to female researchers being “ignored, denied credit or otherwise dropped from sight” throughout history.
The Matilda Effect goes hand in hand with another phenomenon: the Matthew Effect. Per the Gospel of Matthew, those who have plenty shall have more in abundance, while those who have little will find it taken away. Rossiter, now a professor emerita at Cornell University, thought there should be more focus on the fact that female scientists had for centuries ended up on the short end of this maxim. She wrote a paper introducing the term in 1993, and, she says, “it took on a life of its own.”
Lederberg’s legacy matters because she is more proof that science is and has been a realm of women. Today women are better represented, but prejudices linger. And young girls still have fewer scientific role models than boys do.
“We have to work really, really hard on this in our society on every front,” says Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. “Just the fact that her story is being told now is a triumph.”
Women make up a tiny proportion of the international art auction market, says art historian Griselda Pollock, keynote speaker at this week’s NGA’s Know My Name conference. Last year, the international art world was scandalised when two journalists, Julia Halperin and Charlotte Burns of Artnet, revealed work made by female artists accounted for just over two per cent — US$4 billion — of the entire market over 11 years.
Pollock says that the limited market is a direct result of decisions made by museums and galleries. “There is an intimate relation between financial and symbolic value. If the work of women is not valued by scholars and curators art historically, the market reflects that low estimation.
Renee Adams, professor of finance at the Said Business School at Oxford, has done the numbers. In a paper she wrote in 2017 (but so far not published in the traditional finance academic journals despite having won awards), she and her colleagues made a remarkable finding.
“We looked at auction prices, secondary market art prices. And what we show is there’s a roughly 40 per cent discount for paintings painted by women relative to paintings painted by men.”
[T]hey also performed an experiment. They showed participants five paintings by women and five paintings by men. Nothing high end, nothing too famous. Participants were asked to guess the gender of the artist just by looking at a painting. No names, no provenance. Participants couldn’t. As the researchers concluded: “Women’s art appears to sell for less because it is made by women.”
For centuries, nations, societies and cultures have relied on the unwaged work of people, mainly women, to ensure that the young, the elderly and others unable to fully care for themselves are looked after. Society has relied on unwaged caring work to ensure that successive generations are produced, educated, and socialised. Nations depend on unwaged caring work for the existence, health, and well-being of their waged workforce. Three quarters of the world’s unwaged caring work is done by women undertaking 12.5 billion hours every day and representing a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year.
Care income describes an end to this system. It describes a wage, paid in cash or access to land, beginning with mothers and other primary carers, and including those who care for and protect the soil, water, air and natural world. The care income values and recognises the life-giving and life-sustaining work of reproducing and caring for the entire human race. It recognises caring as fundamental to all human relationships and the need to invest in those who do care work for the survival of us all. It recognises that there is no human reproduction without the natural world on which we all depend – the care of the land, the air, the oceans and the rivers. It demands a reversal of priorities: from an economy aimed at profit which enriches some to the detriment of all, to an economy aimed at protecting and enriching all life.
The demand for a care income has grown out of the International Wages for Housework Campaign (IWFHC) started in 1972 by Selma James. The IWFHC is an ongoing campaign that begins with those with least power internationally – unwaged workers in the home, mostly mothers, and unwaged subsistence farmers and workers on the land and in the community. The demand for wages for caring work is also a way of organising from the bottom up, of autonomous sectors working together to end the imbalance of power relations among us. The IWFHC succeeded in getting the UN to pass path-breaking commitments that acknowledge the contribution of unwaged caring work that women do in the home, on the land, and in the community. Since 8 March 2000, the IWFHC has become more widely known as the Global Women’s Strike (GWS).
Like other aspects of COVID-19, the impact was gendered with a far greater decline among women. There were 86,000 fewer women enrolled to study in May 2020 than in May 2019, compared with just over 21,000 fewer men.
These data remind us caring responsibilities not only affect careers or work-life balance, but also education. The sharp decline in female enrolments over the age of 25 suggests it was likely because of caring responsibilities.
The data also highlight the gendered complexities of COVID-19 on education. Women’s enrolments were disproportionately affected, whereas the data showed significant increases in men over the age of 25 enrolling in university in May 2020 compared with 2019. Male enrolments in this age group increased by about 26,000.
Germany’s government has agreed to introduce a mandatory quota for women in senior management positions in the country’s listed companies.
The deal, which was agreed on by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and coalition partner the Social Democrats, will mandate that as soon as a listed company has more than three board members, at least one must be a woman.
As part of the deal, 30 per cent of board members in companies where the government holds a majority stake, must be women. A quota for women will also be introduced for “corporations under public law”, such as health insurance companies.
Whilst Attorney-General Christian Porter and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge have both spent their careers publicly espousing family values, their alleged behaviour in the corridors of Canberra suggest otherwise.
As former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told journalist Louise Milligan, “Some of the most trenchant opponents of same-sex marriage, all in the name of traditional marriage, were at the same time enthusiastic practitioners of traditional adultery.”
Their actions are profoundly hypocritical.
Barrister Kathleen Foley knew Porter from the age of 16, when he coached her in debating at the University of Western Australia, She later worked as a WA state solicitor when Mr Porter was a WA Crown prosecutor.
“For all of that time I’ve known him to be someone who was, in my opinion, based on what I saw, deeply sexist and actually misogynist in his treatment of women, in the way he spoke about women,” Foley said on Four Corners.
“I remember him commenting that he would never date a woman who weighed over 50 kilograms,” she said.
“That stood out to me. I also remember a relationship of his that ended and he commented that the woman involved was thin enough, but she didn’t have big enough tits, and the next woman that he was going to date needed to be as thin, but have bigger tits.”
I started the organization All Mothers Work in 2014, not only as a reaction to conventional socio-cultural notions of motherhood and labour (the name comes from a cry of frustration over the term “working mothers,” as though mothers who do not work for pay are not also performing labour), but also to challenge a lot of existing feminist thought on the topic. I was overwhelmed by the reception I got for my work; endless numbers of women found themselves so dissatisfied with both radical and liberal analyses of motherhood that some even refused to call themselves feminists because they felt so looked down upon, underrepresented and misrepresented. Like me, they found it to be a fulfilling, vital undertaking that was as hard and as valid as any paid work, and yet this was incompatible with what both patriarchal society and feminism were telling us we should be doing and experiencing. . . .
As a result of the influence of Firestone’s work, feminist analysis of motherhood too often reads as though there are only two choices: rejection of motherhood or collusion with patriarchy. It is futile, self-defeating and in my opinion inhumane to approach reproduction and motherhood as things with no value or worth, to treat women as though none of them really want to be mothers and as though they long to be freed from what must be viewed as the burden of motherhood, while seeing children as little more than parasites who don’t require a primary caregiver (which goes against everything we know about child development and how nurturing works) and who should be made to live away from adults as soon as possible. To me, this is seeing reproduction and motherhood in a patriarchal way. It denigrates motherhood, rejects caring activities, and reveals a lack of interest in what women actually want and what children actually need. . . .
I believe that the way forward is to embrace nurturing and caring more – using our own model. When we look objectively at the labour that can only be carried out by women, and also that which is seen as “women’s work,” we see that women’s labour is productive, life-creating, life-maintaining, life-facilitating, co-operative and egalitarian. Labour deemed male, by contrast, is all too often appropriating, parasitic, exploitative and hierarchical. It relies on women’s labour being performed invisibly and for free, which men obtain and maintain by normalizing and justifying their labour values as superior and natural, through the use of gender. We need to shift the whole of society over to those matriarchal values. That means stripping the concepts of nurture, care and the maternal of the meanings given to them by patriarchy, and creating and living our own.
If women were even paid a minimum wage for the labour extracted from them for free, women would be the leading global economic superpower, before any paid labour done by them was counted in. This is not nothing. This is absolutely huge. And yet patriarchal tropes about the work women do, paid and unpaid, still flourish.