The Level Playing Field

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This essay will explore the importance of gender equality in relation to social institutions. I will contend that its importance is in fact monumental within social institutions. Various examples of its absence will be explored, followed by a discussion of their relevance to the course text.

Margaret Reynolds once argued that there were male ‘factions’ in parliament that disadvantaged women. She then proposed that if more women became politicians, there would be a ‘level playing field’ that would help balance equity, and fulfill a ‘democratic deficit’ in parliament. This is a similar process in workforce recruitment, as women have to compete with men for work, and fill positions that require women at the same time. Social institutions mainly emphasize concepts of the level playing field so that both men, and women, can find work within them fairly. It promotes unbiased opportunities in the workforce, so that all ‘players’ will be treated equally. (Reynolds in GEN14 2012, p.7-8)

Women have always had strong views and opinions about seeking independence and equality in Australia, as ‘femocrats’ (feminist bureaucrats) have been upholding the rights of women since the late 60s and early 70s (Eisentein in GEN14 2012, p.9). They have since succeeded in bettering the access of women to social institutions, and have helped establish the following concerns, aided by the Labour party through the National Agenda for Women (1988):

education and training; paid workforce experience; caring, voluntary and domestic work; childcare; income security; violence against women and children; assaults on the dignity of women and through the media and pornography; health and other matters. The special needs of aboriginal women; women from non-English speaking backgrounds; older women; and women living in rural areas were identified (Weeks in GEN14 2012, p.10).

If we were to imagine the absence of a ‘level playing field’ and the scenarios women may encounter in social...
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