What do year 12 girls think about the gender gap?

I recently had the privilege of taking a class of Year 12’s at Walford Anglican School for Girls. Their teacher invited me to speak with the class about women in the workplace. At Diversity Inclusion we work with organisations to help them become more diverse and inclusive, including speaking with leaders about the gender gap, along with other diversity issues that go beyond gender.

We often ask leaders to reflect on the gap in leadership and pay between men and women. We ask them to think about the young women and girls in their lives: daughters, nieces, grand-daughters, and consider what they would think about the gap; how would they feel if they had to share this data with the girls in their lives?

So, talking with the Year 12 business studies class at Walford provided me with a wonderful opportunity to find out exactly what they think about the current gap between men and women in Australia. Despite a plethora of research and discussion on this topic in the business world, these year 12 students were not well informed about issues relating to gender in the workplace, such as pay, leadership and superannuation contributions.

After spending some time reviewing the current data, here are some of the girls’ reactions:

  • girls and boys should be made aware of the gender gap at work
  • paying male graduates more than females is illegal; so why is it still occurring?
  • men miss out on other aspects of life and this isn't fair either
  • it is hard to stand up against sexism because you can be accused by your peers of being a feminist
  • we now have some tips for our first job interview

The girls co-facilitated the class with me, drawing on their brainstorming and communications skills. They were concerned and disappointed about the gender gap, but they accepted the data and were keen to consider the solutions and their role in closing the gap. Some of the solutions that they came up with include:

  • there should be more women in leadership positions, which would help resolve the pay gap
  • we can influence the gender gap through the people we know in the workplace (e.g. family members)
  • we are looking to our male counterparts to help resolve the gap

Thank you girls for sharing your insights and experiences with me! My wish is for the workplaces you enter to be more inclusive than the workplaces of the past.

by Lucinda Hewitson, CEO & Founder, Diversity Inclusion