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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘Gender reorientation’: work is changing, but men are resisting shift

“It’s amazing how little occupational isolation has changed over the past 30 years,” says Professor Jeff Borland, an economist at the University of Melbourne. “When you have that level of isolation … there’s less ability to adjust.”

Men make up 87 percent of construction workers in Australia’s highly gender-segregated workforce.Credit:Simon Schluter

Macroeconomic changes during the 1980s and 1990s impacted some of the traditional male employers, contributing to a gradual decline in the overall share of adult males in work. For example, the manufacturing sector was once Australia’s largest employer, but has now been replaced by the female-led healthcare and social assistance sectors.

Professor John Buchanan, a labor market expert at the University of Sydney, says automation is also likely to adversely affect jobs traditionally held by men.

“A lot of people are being left behind, no doubt about it,” he said.

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Job growth is now fastest in female-dominated industries such as healthcare, human services and hospitality. This new backbone of the Australian economy will continue to expand in the coming decade.

Rae Cooper, Professor of Gender, Work and Employment Relations at the University of Sydney, says this will lead to a “gender reorientation” of the labor force.

“Men can take up jobs in these high-growth areas, but they don’t seem to want to do that,” she said.

One possible reason for this is the deep-rooted set of appropriate roles for male and female workers. Another is salary and conditions. Many jobs in female-dominated service industries such as child care and aged care are poorly paid and relatively unsafe compared to traditionally male-dominated sectors.

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“Low pay in these areas will be one thing structuring that option,” says Cooper. “Improving job quality will benefit women employed in highly feminized care jobs, and may also attract men to participate.”

For decades, government policies have focused on ways to increase female workforce participation, including better access to paid parental leave and childcare. There is still a lot to be done to remove the barriers preventing women from working, so Australia must step on that policy pedal.

But male participation also needs attention. With the gradual opening of borders and strong demand for labour, adding more men to the workforce will help in the recovery from the pandemic. Finding ways to break down the gender segregation of Australia’s jobs market would be a good place to start.

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World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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