The place of gender in contemporary workplaces in New Zealand and Australia

Men's engagement with gender diversity principles in the transport and logistics industry formed part of discussions at a day long symposium at WOW.

The scarcity of women at senior levels in Auckland-based law firms, working part time in the Australian university sector, and the attitude of  men towards equity in the transport and logistics sector were a few of the topics addressed during the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing’s bi-annual gender and workplace relations symposium on 22 October.

Colleagues from Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) Gender and Diversity Research Group were also welcomed for this day long analysis of contemporary issues surrounding gender and employment in Australia and New Zealand. Dr Katherine Ravenswood and Associate Professor Candice Harris of AUT opened proceedings, addressing co-authored research (with Nimbus Staniland) on New Zealand Woman’s Weekly’s ongoing representation of feminised work and specifically, its positioning of women through the lens of family carer. Early Career Research (ECR), Dr Sandie Kensbock (Griffith’s Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management) spoke to the findings of her PhD research, which gives a voice to the otherwise ‘invisible’ experiences of female hotel attendants in 5-star hotels on the Gold Coast, Queensland. The result of interviews with 46 participants, Sandie’s research considered in part how an attitude that devalues such work  marginalises, oppresses and ostracises employees, and the subsequent effect it has on other hotel workers’ and guests’ interactions with the attendants.

(left to right), A/Prof Janis Bailey, Dr Carolyn Troup, Prof Glenda Strachan, Prof Judith Pringle (front), A/Prof Candice Harris (rear), Dr Sandie Kensbock, Dr Irene Ryan, Dr Katherine Ravenswood, A/Prof Lynne Giddings
(left to right), A/Prof Janis Bailey, Dr Carolyn Troup, Prof Glenda Strachan, Prof Judith Pringle (front), A/Prof Candice Harris (rear), Dr Sandie Kensbock, Dr Irene Ryan, Dr Katherine Ravenswood, A/Prof Lynne Giddings

With co-authors Dr Carolyn Troup and Professor Glenda Strachan, WOW researcher Associate Professor Janis Bailey spoke about the good and bad outcomes of working part time for professional [general] staff in Australian universities who are seeking to progress their career. Concluding from a 2011 survey of 10 924 such employees that moving between part time and full time work does not necessarily impede career advancement, Janis and her colleagues identified, however, that only one-eighth of workers had actually worked part time and this mode of employment, furthermore, tended be that of a fixed term nature and lower down the Higher Education Worker (HEW) pay scale.

In a view from the other side of the gender-fence, Dr Irene Ryan of AUT offered insight around men’s understanding of, and engagement with, the concept and practices of ‘equity at work’ within the transport and logistics sector. Her findings form part of a larger study considering organisational life, managerial work, leadership cultures and sport. Associate Professor Lynne Giddings, also of AUT, explored the contradictions presented by different research paradigms as they try to validate mixed-methods research through a one-size-fits-all set of standards.

WOW Adjunct Professor Judith Pringle (AUT), closed the day’s proceedings by addressing the demographic characteristics of 142 women and men lawyers working in Auckland’s top law firms, to highlight their perception of career prospects and support, factors influencing retention, and future aspirations of their firm/s, and of the profession itself (co-authored with Sally Lin, Kim Archibald, Sabina Jaegar, Irene, Katherine, Lynne and Candice).

WOW’s ‘gender in the workplace’ symposiums are hosted by a population of researchers interested in the complex and varied state of gender at work, and specifically women’s and men’s experiences and representations within the occupational and organisational structures and practices of the workforce.