Australia trivialises and sexualises women in senior and leadership positions, a gender and media academic has said, as a new study reports that young women are rejecting certain career paths because of an overwhelming perception they will face sexism.
Fewer than 1% wanted a job in politics and almost half said sexist attitudes in Australia were increasing, according to the survey of 1,000 girls and women aged between 14 and 25 by children’s rights organisation Plan International Australia.
More than three quarters of those surveyed had endured sexist comments, the survey published on Wednesday said. More than 30% believed it would be easier to achieve their ideal career role if they were male.
Louise North, a senior research fellow in gender and media at Deakin University, said “given the sexism and conservative values in many facets of society”, the results were not surprising.
“TV shows that focus on marrying a man and by assumption being nothing without one. A former prime minister [Julia Gillard] being asked on The Project about her sexual relationship with her partner – we just don’t take women leaders seriously in this country,” she said. “We trivialise them and sexualise them.
“So if you were a young woman in Australia, why would you consider a career in politics, for example, when you’ve just seen the way our first female prime minister was treated by the media and by the opposition?”
In June Gillard said during an interview with US broadcaster NPR that female world leaders were often judged on appearances and were not treated with the same respect as men.
“I think for men, that conversation starts with: what kind of leader will he be,” Gillard said. “You know, strong, weak, compassionate, strident. I think for women it starts with: can she lead? And it’s a subtle but significant difference.”
North said people still viewed female leaders as an anomaly. “If the government was serious about women and leadership it would have...
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