Slip, Slop, Slap campaign to tackle sexism
A national education campaign like the widely successful "Slip, Slop, Slap" sunsmart movement is needed to reverse old-fashioned sexism in Australian households, with young girls still doing traditional 'women's work' like cooking and cleaning.
The call for national leadership from gender experts comes as education departments consider a nationwide survey of state school primary and secondary school to learn more about the gender divide in households, and new data reveals girls' household chores are still stuck in the 1970s.
The NAB Independent Schools Survey found girls were doing old-fashioned 'housewife' chores to earn their pocket money with 65 per cent of girls doing laundry and ironing compared to 47 per cent of boys.
Almost all girls (90 per cent) did the dishes versus 78 per cent of boys, while more boys (59 per cent) mowed the lawn than girls (14 per cent).
The survey also found parents valued boys work over girls chores and that while more girls (43 per cent) received pocket money than boys (39 per cent) they earnt less, with boys getting $37 while girls collected $26.
Director of the AIBE Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace Dr Terry Fitzsimmons compared the issue to gun control and is calling on the federal government to step in.
"The only way we can tackle this is to have a national campaign like 'slip, slop, slap' or smoking. A simple message that shows cause and effect," he said.
"As a country we are fighting with our hands tied behind our backs, half our population is being held back. We are not addressing the problem. We need a whole-of-country seismic shift, like gun control."
Experts said parents needed to be particularly aware coming into Christmas when the stores are segregated into boys and girls toys.
"There are pink vacuum cleaners, there are brown trucks. When kids are exposed to those things it really reinforces a set of gender stereotypes," said Monash University's Professor JaneMaree Maher, Centre for Women's Studies & Gender Research.
"We need national leadership on it but we also need to lead by practice."
The state education departments in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia are currently assessing investing in a world-first survey of 160,000 primary and high school students across public and independent schools so that governments can have a better picture as to when career choices are made.
"We want to find out when they are deciding what they are interested in," Dr Fitzsimmons said, adding that research showed children's key influencers were friends and media.
MORE EDUCATION NEWS:
"Like Peppa the Pig; Dad goes off to work and Mum stays home - kids are soaking that up.
Popular Australian cartoon Bluey also stumbled this week, criticised for saying Bluey's mum Chilli sometimes "falls short" as she has recently gone back to work.
The makers quickly responded to criticism and reviewed the blurb.
Principal of Tara Anglican School for Girls Susan Middlebrook said the advantage of an all girls school is the lack of gender bias.
"They are able to participate in anything they want, they don't need to pretend to be less intelligent, sometimes young girls can feel the need to kowtow to pressure from boys," she said.
Year 12 student Skye Brownlow said she was surprised to hear the girls were still being paid less pocket money than boys and said the school was helping prepare them to break gender stereotypes.
"We are not pressured to do food tech because girls should be cooking - we can get really hands on," she said.
NAB economist Dean Pearson, head of Behavioural & Industry Economics, said parents valued boys physical work more because it looks harder.
"We know women carry out the bulk of unpaid work and that unpaid work is quite invisible. Even when it comes to looking after siblings, girls spend 5.1 hours compared to boys 2.4."
National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell said: "It's important for parents to set good examples about equality early on, because children pick up cues from a young age about what is valued and their place in the world. Pocket money, and the jobs children are expected to do in return, is an example of these types of cues."
Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, an Australian Government agency, Libby Lyons said stereotyping is a "cradle-to-grave issue.
"Gender stereotyping starts from when we are born and continues over the course of our lives - how many times have we seen an advertisement for a used car - "only one lady owner". It is this stereotyping, and the unconscious bias which is behind it, that steers women and men into particular jobs and industries.
"We can only achieve gender equality in our workplaces, communities and the nation if we all work together. Currently, only 53.1 per cent of Australian employers who report to the Agency consult with their employees on issues concerning gender equality. We need to improve these results as a matter of urgency."
NAB INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS SURVEY 2019 SNAPSHOT
GIRLS V BOYS CHORES
More girls than boys did chores such as:
* laundry and ironing (65% girls versus 47% boys)
* the dishes (90% girls versus 78% boys)
* cooking and preparing meals (59% girls versus 49% boys)
* grocery shopping (44% girls versus 33% boys).
BOYS V GIRLS CHORES
* Mowing the lawn and gardening (59% boys versus 14% girls)
* Washing and cleaning the car (52% boys versus 27% girls)
* Taking out the rubbish (87% boys versus 66% girls).
Boys and girls are spending roughly similar amounts of time doing most chores during the week, with two key exceptions.
* Girls (5.1 hours) spend more than twice as much time than boys (2.4 hours) looking after or playing with their siblings.
* Boys (3.9 hours) however spend much more time than girls (2.7 hours) looking after pets.
*42% students overall said they received pocket money.
* More girls (43%) did so than boys (39%).
* Students received $29 of pocket money per week.
* Boys ($37) received more than girls ($26).
NOTE: Survey of 400 Australian secondary school students