Mar 28, 2017

Where Are The Women in Charge?

When you walk into most aged care facilities, you’ll most likely see women caring for the elderly – which is why it’s no surprise that women make up an overwhelming majority of the workers in the sector.

Though there are the occasional male nurse and/or personal care assistant, women make up about 82 per cent of the aged care workforce. This is something that is not commonly seen in most industries, but is understandable with ages care as women tend to be drawn more to nurturing roles.

However, this is not reflected at the top of the business – CEOs, Chairs and top management – where men still dominate. Men who go into nursing roles often find themselves in management and leadership positions.

Though the proportions are a little more balanced in aged care in comparison to other industries, men still make the majority of key decision makers in all sectors.

According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, women make up 25 per cent of board positions within the Australian Stock Exchange’s largest 200 companies (ASX 200).

This is a considerable increase from when Australian Institute of Company Directors’ data was first collected in 2009, where women only made up 8.5 per cent of board positions.

The AICD hope to reach a target of 30 per cent female representation on ASX 200 boards by the end of 2018. This appears to be a realistic goal for the aged care sector.

Trends seem to be changing in aged care with more women taking on roles in the boardroom. A reason for this could be because men are refusing positions where they are not paid.

In 2016, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency collected data from 288 organisation from the healthcare and social assistance division. In it, it was found that women make up 90 per cent of administrative roles and 70 per cent of senior management, but only 37 per cent of CEO positions.

Why is this the case? Research at University of North Carolina, think they’ve come up with a reason why there aren’t more women in leadership roles. Essentially, they concluded that “women feel that they’re not as effective, which may mean that they’re less likely to step up and ask for a raise or a promotion”.

In an industry where “care” is the main service, and where women make up a majority of the staff, it would be beneficial for the sector to have more women, with the right experience, in charge making the big decisions.

How can organisations build a culture that enables women working in the sector to accept more leadership and executive roles? What great initiatives is your organisation doing to address inequality?

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