Queensland Women’s Week: too much to celebrate for just one day!
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 3, 13 April 2018, p23
QTU members have celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) and Queensland Women’s Week throughout the state - in our classrooms, our staff rooms, on school parades and through formal functions.
IWD is an important occasion to take stock, reflect on what has been achieved and the important work that remains for women and girls.
As a feminised work force (77 per cent of QTU members are women) we know that real barriers for women in promotion exist. The departmental figures are improving, but currently 65 per cent of Band 11 principal positions are held by men. We know that women with caring responsibilities who access part-time (often a struggle in itself) move up the salary scale slower, so accessing the top pay scale takes a lot longer. We know that sick leave balances of women are depleted disproportionately because of caring responsibilities, and that harassment and deep held biases are still working against us.
We have a unique opportunity to role model gender equity in the schools where we work. Our students are watching, they see who works part-time in schools, they see who is the school principal, and they hear and see what is going on the world around them (#metoo #timesup).
Our Union has proudly been part of the Girls' Uniform Agenda campaign, and it was absolutely fantastic when the state government confirmed that it is to promptly update the uniform policy to ensure every school must provide a shorts and pants option for all students. This sends a strong message about gender equity statewide and will make a very real difference to thousands of girls.
QTU Reps from State Council were also able to attend the Brisbane IWD March during the break for lunch, and heard from a diverse range of speakers, including QCU Secretary Ros McLennan. Appropriately the rally was held at Emma Miller Place.
Kate Ruttiman and I represented the QTU at the annual DoE IWD Awards and celebrations. The highlight of the event was the awards, and it was so exciting to see the tenacity and passion of the teachers being rewarded. This year, the recipient of the IWD Award was Jessica Walker (Yeronga SHS), and Gabriel Garate (Laura SS) was awarded the inaugural DoE IWD Youth Achievers Award. The QTU is immensely proud that both these women are QTU Workplace Representatives.
Delegates to the QTU Union Reps Conference in Brisbane on 9 March were invited to join in the IWD celebrations with Brisbane-based comedian Mel Buttle. It was great to celebrate with a little fun, because let’s face it, gender equity is a typically serious business, and at times a little depressing.
As we move towards EB9 and schools and branches start their conversations about the log of claims, I encourage everyone to put a gender lens over the claim and what we can do to improve the financial security of women, now and in retirement. We need to ask what work needs to be done to remove the barriers for women in promotional positions and where are the flexible work options in schools supporting working and caring families and teachers in the best possible way? These are interesting times, and as more women in the media and entertainment industry stand up, speak up and say enough is enough, I know that our students and young people will be looking to us as teachers to also find our voice, and help them stand up and speak up too.
Women and Social Welfare Issues