To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are sharing stories from some of our female leaders and academics over the week. Today, Jane Daisley-Snow, Academic Lead: Course Development (Short Courses), reflects on the vulnerability of women in the labour force.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I did not have a clear idea of a career path or occupation when I was younger. As everyone in my family had a university degree there was an implied expectation I would go to university. My interest in the social sciences and humanities have been an enduring theme throughout my career path.
What’s been your greatest achievement to date?
Raising emotionally aware and autonomous children who are sensitive to the wellbeing and needs of others and the planet has been my greatest joy and accomplishment.
How have you found being a woman, working in your sector?
The professional fields of Education and Psychotherapy are feminised occupations with an emphasis on person-centric skills such as empathy, effective communication, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, collaboration, and creativity. The pejorative term “soft skills” stereotypically sequestered as female, devalues the worth of these important core skills.
“Hard skills” such as engineering, technology and science are rewarded with promotion and leadership as their output can be easily quantified. I have found my qualitative, person-centred skill-set” has afforded me limited opportunities for career progression, promotion and senior roles.
Tell us about any female role models in your life?
My mother was one of my role models. She completed her Masters in Linguistics when I was in Primary School and lectured at University during my teens in the 70’s. This was a period of political change for women when the slogan ‘the personal is political’ was figural. Feminists were advocating for government-funded women’s refuges, health centres, provision of childcare and abortion law reform.
My parents both contributed to household chores and cooking which was unusual at the time. My mother marched to the beat of her own drum and encouraged her three daughters to do the same. She gave me Germaine Greer’s seminal text the ‘Female Eunuch’ to read during my teens. Other female role models include the feminist writers Simone De Beauvoir, Virginia Wolf and Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
What are you ‘choosing to challenge’ on this International Women’s Day?
Core skills, strategic skills, person-centred skills not ‘soft skills’
There is still a 14% gender pay gap between men and women based on full-time wage. This statistic does not include women in part-time positions or unemployment. There is a 45-47% difference in a woman’s superannuation funds at retirement age.
The pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of women in the labour force. The increased burden of care and ability to participate in the workforce, casualised work and low paid person-centric jobs such as childcare, hospitality, tourism, retail, nursing, and aged care have had a profound impact on women.
Deloitte economists predict by 2030 more than 80% of jobs will be “soft-skill” intensive. It is time to stop creating a dichotomy between “soft skills” and “hard skills”, to value strategic, interpersonal skills as highly as technical skills and for this to be reflected in terminology, position descriptions and salary.