Gender segregation worsening in critical industries

Australian construction and engineering industries continue to have a high level of occupational gender segregation despite more women entering the workforce, according to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

Occupational gender segregation occurs when an occupation is dominated by either male or female workers. According to CEDA, this is worsening in critical industries such as construction, technology, health and education.

“There is still a low proportion of women in traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction, mining, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – STEM ­– and manufacturing,” says CEDA chief executive Melinda Cilento.

According to Workplace Gender Equality Agency figures from 2018, just 12 per cent of construction workers were women, down from 14 per cent in 1998.

“While many social, historical and economic factors have driven this segregation, many of the remaining barriers to change are cultural – whether at the government, workplace or individual level,” says Cilento.  

“We must tackle these entrenched cultural barriers wherever they exist.”

CEDA recommends that more must be done to encourage women into STEM fields. Men remain 1.8 times more likely than women to be working in a STEM field five years after completing their qualification. 

Furthermore, the proportion of women studying and working in STEM has barely changed since 2015. According to CEDA, this worsens the gender pay gap, as these fields are typically highly paid, and the jobs are expected to remain in high demand.

View CEDA’s submission to the federal government’s Employment White Paper here.

Photo by Marcus Reubenstein on Unsplash.

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