Gender revolution stalls
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 13:30

Young women today are just as likely as 1950s housewives to want taller husbands, expect men to earn more money and to take the initiative in dating and marriage.

1078398_traffic_lights_in_the_eveningStanford University Professor of Sociology, Paula England, will tell the Australian Social Policy Conference at the University of New South Wales that progress for women has ground to a halt both at work and at home.

"The gender revolution has stalled - the low hanging fruit has already been picked."

Based on her research in the US, Professor England says growth in female employment stopped in the 1990s and due to the low pay and status of traditionally female-dominated jobs like nursing, there has been little incentive for men to move into such roles.

Underlying these trends, she says, are persistent social attitudes around gender roles based on the belief that men and women are good at different things.

"Conventions embodying male dominance have changed much less in ‘the personal' than in the job world.

"Men are still expected to propose marriage. Upon marriage, the vast majority of women take their husband's surname. The number of women keeping their own name increased in the 1970s and 1980s but little thereafter, never exceeding about 25 percent even for college graduates."

The three-day Australian Social Policy conference, the largest of its kind in Australia, will be opened at 11am today by Productivity Commissioner Alison McClelland.

Hosted by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW, the biennial conference brings together researchers, practitioners and policy makers from across disciplines and provides an opportunity to explore research and practice. More than 140 contributed papers will be presented by leading national and international policy experts.

Program highlights include:

  • Social democracy and the risk society by Professor John Quiggin, University of Queensland
  • The paradox of the investment state: growth, employment and poverty in Europe by A/Professor Bea Cantillon, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Launch of Professor Peters Saunders' new book, Down and Out, which provides the first comprehensive assessment of the nature and associations between the three main forms of social disadvantage in Australia: poverty, deprivation and social exclusion
  • Forum sessions include: Income management; and Multiculturalism, migration and a sustainable Australia, which is being recorded for broadcast on Life Matters, ABC Radio National
  • Tom Calma will launch Unsettling the Settler State, edited by UNSW A/Professor Sarah Maddison and Morgan Brigg
  • Roundtable on the proposed national Disability Insurance Scheme
  • Chinese Social Policy Workshop and Higher Degree Research Workshop

What: 2011 Australian Social Policy Conference

When: Wednesday 6 July-Friday 8 July (opening session 11am)

Where: The John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Kensington campus