Sexism widespread in Australian workplaces

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 10:30 hrs

Australia's blokey culture is responsible for sexism in most of the country's workplaces, according to the Federal Government's gender equality watchdog.

Despite high profile women in parliament, progress towards gender equity more broadly had stalled, said director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency Helen Conway, in an exclusive interview with News Limited.

Conway, a former company secretary of oil giant Caltex, said that the fact that you could count on one hand the female chief executives of Australia's top 200 companies listed on the stock exchange is a shame.

"Frankly, we are still in a pretty disgraceful state there," the Daily Telegraph quoted Conway as saying.

The number of female chief executives has increased from just two a decade ago, but went backwards recently due to the departure of Pacific Brands' chief executive Sue Morphett and Macarthur Coals's Nicole Hollows.

Conway said the unusual nature of women in positions of leadership made them targets for extra scrutiny and commentary.

"I think it has been hyper sexualised and has brought a demeaning element to these comments," she said.

"We have got a female governor general, a female prime minister and now we have a female speaker of the (Parliament) House.They keep the focus on this unusual circumstance where you have got women in positions of power.

"Those in our community who don't really respect women have a go and it's not just your 'John Howard's got big eyebrows' - it's more sexual in nature," she added.

Conway said misogyny was an overused term but sexism, treating someone differently based on gender, was present in most workplaces. (ANI)

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