Would you aim for the top if you had your time over? 62



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For more than 30 years now, women have been told they can be equal players with men at work. Women have been provided with more education, more opportunity and more acceptance than ever before. Yet still there are comparatively very few women in the top jobs.

How few? Put it this way: during his regular Finance Report on the ABC’s 7pm News in February, Alan Kohler showed a graph comparing the performance of US companies with female CEOs to the general market index. Fascinatingly, the graph showed that companies run by women performed better than those run by men.

“I can’t do that graph in Australia because the sample [of women CEOs] is too small here,” Mr Kohler told viewers.

Australia is number 24 on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, which compiles data on things such as education, health, social policies.

While this puts us into the realms of the more advanced nations in terms of gender equality but we’re still pretty far down the list for a nation that says it’s ready for women to engage more in the leadership arena.

There are currently 20 per cent of women on boards, which is up from 8 per cent a few years ago, but even Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, says that change here is “glacially slow”.

While we wish our daughters and granddaughters every success they wish for, how many of us, looking back through the lens of hindsight, would want that for ourselves?

If you had had the opportunities our girls have these days, would you have set your sights high? Would you be jostling for a seat at the bar or taking up golf to spend a bit of extra time with the boss?

Chances are you’d still have to do the lion’s share of the housework, as numerous studies have showed that even women working in top jobs still contribute to at least half of the domestic chores in the family.

And your pay would be smaller than if your husband was doing your job. The average pay gap that exists between full-time earnings for men and women in Australia is 18.6 per cent. If you’re in a management position, you could be earning as much as 45 per cent less than your male counterparts.

And then there’s the guilt and constant stigma of being a working mother, should you choose to have children. The fact that, even if you are the greater earner, it is most likely still you who would get hauled out of the office to retrieve a sick child from school.

With all that said, you would have the opportunity to pursue your dreams, be they financial freedom, making a difference or just working hard because you love to do so.

So what would you choose?

If you were at the beginning of your working life today, tell us, would you aim for the top? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I wouldn’t have changed anything in my life. Had 10 wonderful years off while my children were little and then went back to teaching to supplement our farm income when drought took hold. Has the opportunity to progress but that would have meant not being in front of a class which is where I knew I was at my best…… So chose to stay there. After I lost my husband suddenly I was lucky enough to move into Learning Support in later years which meant I could work past retirement age. I really think I had the best of both worlds. I am delighted however that there are more opportunities for women today if that is what they choose as my daughters do. The world is their oyster but for me I have no regrets.

  2. Women will never be equal. Just the way it is, I would have loved to be a teacher, but in the 50’s women were not encouraged to go a degree. Still love the life I have had.,

    2 REPLY
    • You certainly didn’t gp to the school I went to then Mary. It was just an ordinary Government High School but everyone in the “Professional” stream was encouraged to go on to further education – at that time (late 1950s) preferably Teachers College. In fact, if you weren’t hoping to become a teacher, they weren’t particularly interested in you! (I didn’t become a teacher, worked in IT and am still working 3 days a week at 72 – and loving it!)

  3. I feel the same as you Janet. Just so privileged to be with the kids. Interestingly, the article mentions the guilt for working and the “stigma”! I found the exact opposite. It was we who stayed home that bore the criticism. This is one of the main reasons I chose to look after my grand children,so that the mother’s would not have career interruption. I always worked in learning support in a voluntary position and would take the kids with me,so I also feel I had the best of all worlds.

  4. I grew up in a household of girls. Our mother (now in her eighties) was a teacher. We thought our options were limited only by how hard we worked, not by our gender. We all went to university, stayed home when our children were young and went back to work when they were in school. No regrets here.

    2 REPLY
  5. No…held Senior Nursing position for many years…After a life threatening illness l went back as a bedside Nurse…much happier..

  6. I left school at 15, Dad wanted my 3 younger brothers to finish school and get good jobs, I was a girl and was meant to marry and have a husband early…whoopy. So now I am 64, live in one house with my hubby, own another house we rent, have a super fund and most likely be on a part pension. One brother lives in a rented flat on benifits, one still works is alone in a small unit which he may own by the time he retires at 67 with a tiny super fund, the third owns the franchise of a pub, it up to debt he will never pay even with the sale of his pub franchise has little or no super. So I didnt need that education, BUT with it, getting a better paid job and not having to struggle so bloody hard would have been a God send to me. I did some tafe courses along the way for computers, stained glass, that helped, but when you work and have a family in the early years it is too much a burden to get an education.

  7. I think i would like a trade to fall back to after raising children, but having a rough ride raising 3 children on your own, made me stronger, my family was my support, loved time with my kids goes too quick

  8. Some people are happier just doing the the job, not climbing the ladder.What is wrong with that?

    1 REPLY
    • Nothing really so long as it applies to both sexes and work/ home life is flexible. Not everyone has to be high achievers but we do need more women in high places…. Men just fxck things up!!

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