• Peter Bateman
    In the May/June edition of Safeguard magazine we pose three questions based on stories in the magazine. One of them is this:

    What factors inhibit women in H&S roles from applying for more senior positions? What is your experience?

    Feel free to respond here on the Forum, or privately here via a Survey Monkey form.

    An edited selection of responses will be published in the July/August edition, but with no names attached. One randomly selected person will receive a prize, namely a copy of the book Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership, by Kirstin Ferguson.
  • KeithH
    Let me see.
    Gender bigotry
    Social Darwinism
    Educational stigma
    Historical European culture
    Social bias

    No charge for my opinions
  • Steve H
    Don't hold back Keith,tell us what you really think.

    Back in 2009 when Sandie and I launched our test & tag business, one of the early leads we got was to go out to Downer NZ at McLeans Island, talked to the bloke that called us in, it was the first day on the job for his new offsider, a lady.

    He's long gone, lasted about 18 months,she's now Downer's National HSE Manager, give it a go, push hard, nothing worthwhile in life comes easy.
  • Julie Forde
    Sometime piecemeal attempts are given.
    Agree with Keith the unconscious bias is everywhere and what makes it even more difficult is that if the leaders is a male your ceiling is already in place.

    Inequities are everywhere and there is still a pay gap, this is real.

    Not many post here, I wonder why.

    I speak to lots of women in senior roles and even when they get there, (at the near top) the male bias drives them to distraction.

    If we don't recognise it - it wont change.

    Good on the Manager at Downer
  • KeithH
    A few more items.

    Lack of role models
    Limited access to support networks
    Long term effects of rejection
    Poor recognition of potential
    Stereotyped work-life balance
    Misogynistic attitudes

    I personally believe it all began with the Greeks and Romans.

    These are just a few references - Women in Ancient Greece and The Roman Empire - Women from about 80 - 100 generations ago.
    Those customs persisted into the early 1800s when missionaries began arriving in NZ.
    Maori Women: Caught in the Contradictions of a Colonised Reality. See section III. The Status of Women Under English Law
    And this practice of reducing women has continued to the current generation - a married couple are usually referred to as 'man and wife' rather than as a 'woman and her husband'.
  • Andrew
    Are women in fact inhibited from applying for senior roles.

    Gee our first woman Prime Minster (Jenny Shipley) was back in 1997.
    Dame Sian Elias was first woman Chief Justice in 1999
    Dame Cath Tizard was first woman Governor General in 1990
    Christine Rankin became boss of Social Welfare in 1998
    Even Georgina Beyer became the first trans woman MP in 1999
  • Peter Bateman
    Four people have responded to this post so far. Three of them are blokes.
    Just sayin'
  • KeithH
    Looking at the picture since 1840.

    Premiers or PMs since 1856 (no Premier in 1854)
    41 in total, 3 women and 38 men
    Women 7.32%

    Chief Justices since 1841
    13 in total, 2 women and 11 men
    Women 15.88%

    Governors, Governors-General or Governor-Generals since 1841
    38 in total, 4 women and 34 men
    Women 10.53%

    MPs since 1854
    5347 in total, 494 women and 4853 men
    Women 9.24%

    Just looking at the bigger picture
  • Trudy Downes
    Keith said it all in his first post really, although we could also consider racism in the list too, especially considering that we are a multi-cultural nation.

    So it only took us 157 years to vote in female leadership - 104 years after women were "allowed" to vote. Sad outlook for the gender pay gap.
  • Andrew
    No Trudy it didn't. I only used recent examples.

    1877 Kate Edgar. First woman to get a university qualification. Followed by Helen Connon in 1881 who got a masters degree with honours. And Bessie Te Wenerau Grace was the first Maori woman to get a degree in 1926
    1889 Lavinia Kelsey set up the first kindergarten
    1893 Elizabeth Yates first woman mayor,
    1896 Emily Siedeberg first woman doctor to graduate
    1897 Ethel Benjamin first woman law graduate

    I can keep going if you wish.

    And lets put the gender pay gap nonsense to bed.

    Say I have a Safety Manager job going that the market suggests I'm going to have to pay $140,000 to fill. What do you reckon I'm going to do. Hire a man at $140,000 or a woman at $110,000

    (and in case an answer is necessary I'm going to hire the best person for the job and if their skills and experiences match $140,000 then that is what I will pay).

    The "racism" argument is also a nonsense. And If I had time I would drag out the university demographics of tertiary enrollments and subsequent graduates. And such discussion usually end up patronizing successful members of racial minorities.
  • Trudy Downes
    Feel free to keep going, I enjoy NZ history and am loving the details that you are raising. Although I ponder that education is not necessarily leadership or "application for senior roles".

    But also note, that while you are privileged enough to not be in a sexist, racist, or gender-differentiated pay environment, they do indeed exist.
  • Robb

    You can go on naming the "first woman" of something, but none are the first in that field, so until you name the first was a female...you have no argument.

    The question posed is real; it is sad and unfortunate that females are disproportionately represented in senior or executive roles; I am not qualified to enter into a discussion about why this is the case or why females do not apply for such roles. However, I believe I am safe to say your comments are one reason.
    Thank you, you have successfully confirmed comment.

    If you are your usual self, you will go on the offensive and try to justify your views and rip my post apart. Go on, I say; you have shown your hand, and it's outdated, bigoted and not welcome.

    Walk on Andrew
  • Jane
    Flowcharts and graphs are my thing, here is one ;)
    Screenshot 2023-06-15 113200 (99K)
  • Andrew

    What I often find in discussion like this is people find barriers when in facts no such barriers exist.

    And I don't live in a privileged world. With "privledge" being a word I could be quite offended by if I was so inclined.

    My world has been one of meritocracy. I have lived it since my very first job which was the sole male in an office full of women when I learnt the most intimate details about their periods and included, but not limited to, the positions they got into in the back seat of their boyfriends car.

    There is probably a very strong argument to be made (if I had time and didn't want to derail this thread0 that the most discriminated person today is your "older, white, male"

    But I am looking forward to more womens (am I even allowed to say that nowadays?) input into this subject. Hopefully based on fact rather than opinion because I sure as heck doent want to be accused of "mansplaining"
  • Admin
    At this point it may be useful for contributors to this thread to refer to the Forum guidelines.
  • KeithH
    I believe you may be confusing individual success with applying for a position (in a more senior role).

    The factors I mentioned have, in New Zealand and IMHO, origins in education legislation following the signing on the Treaty of Waitangi. A brief overview is here - Who achieves what in secondary schooling? A conceptual and empirical analysis in Appendix 1 p78.
    These have impacted women - regardless of race - since their introduction.

    And personally, I accept I am a privileged New Zealander descended from racist British colonialists.
  • Trudy Downes
    I am not trying to be a keyboard warrior, and truly did enjoy the examples you shared (especially Georgina Beyer who was awesome). Georgina ticks a whole lot of "first" boxes (MP, transgender/Māori mayor, first female mayor for Carterton etc.), I only hope that other women don't have to go through what she did to succeed.

    And I am serious when I say it would be a privilege to be in an environment with no racism, sexism and with pay equity and equality. However I also think that to recognise such a place would be to acknowledge that other places are not so lucky, otherwise how would a person truly understand the comparison?

    Here are just a few of the things I have had to put up with:
    a job interview where the company owner asked if I was planning to have babies soon.
    a job interview where they were interested in my ethnicity because I might bridge the gap with cultures that pākehā management couldn't reach (and being female reduces my 'threat' factor I assume).
    a job where a male counterpart is paid $20k more with less responsibility
    being the sole woman at a table of senior managers laughing about a male "having a period" because he was upset about something (the men laughed, I did not - and the men did not laugh very long)
    exclusion from a "management retreat" where my budgets and strategies were discussed without me

    So while I personally have had and will always apply for senior roles, I have to be picky about who those roles are for. As Julie says, a woman in a senior role is always distracted with active male bias.
  • Andrew

    Interesting paper. Which concludes with "That group, mainly male, Māori and Pasifika,
    remain severely at risk of poor outcomes, such as joblessness or even imprisonment,
    that could be overcome by educational engagement and success."

    A situation that hasn't really changed
    NCEA (54K)
  • Andrew
    Like wise Trudy. I find these sorts of discussions often dissolve into anecdotal opinion pieces often devoid of reality or fact.

    So lets see what the latest Ngā kaiarataki Ratonga Tūmatanui o tēnei wā report says (because I am struggling to find data in a safety context and I am trying to show objectively that barriers are a construct rather than a reality. (Without denigrating individuals own personal experiences - because I am sure we have all had some shockers)

    So how does the senior leadership of the NZ public service look:

    "There are 41 Public Service leaders, which include:

    39 Secretaries and Chief Executives
    2 Deputy Public Service Commissioners.
    There are 22 women (54%) and 19 men (46%)."
  • Jane

    Seriously, have you just gone "yeah but" about men
    on a thread that is pertaining to "What factors inhibit women in H&S roles from applying for more senior positions? What is your experience?"

    Peter, I think the two women that have contributed deserve to be applauded, and the rest of this perhaps speaks for itself.
    Maybe reiterate that women are invited to submit privately on the survey monkey :)
  • KeithH
    While I am aware of the educational outcomes faced by Maori and Pasifika males, this thread relates to women of any ethnicity.
  • Sarah Becker
    How about Woman thinking they have to have all the experience before they apply for a role, not believing in themselves.
    And my personal favourite right now, going through menopause and it affecting their physical and mental health to pitch at a higher level......
  • Trudy Downes

    Another one to add to the list "not being able to talk about everyday stuff because it relegates you to an island of irrelevancy" (whilst discretely sweating like a stuck pig).
  • Andrew
    I can't speak to women in safety because I don't have a big enough data set.

    But if you want my experience with roles at a senior level I can say I have recently hired 2 people with a pay rate over $100,000. If I recollect correctly most applicants were women. I hired the 2 best applicants for the job based on their skills and experience. Both happened to be women. Both hires ended up being abject failures and they no longer work here. Do I say "women are hopeless"?. No. I say I had 2 bad hires and will continue to find the best people for the job and currently applicants are on the whole women.

    Unfortunately I have hired so many women I have run out of toilet facilities. Do I stop hiring women. No I don't. I am getting more facilities built. That's my commitment to ensuring I hire the best people for the job regardless of some socially constructed label placed on them

    Anyhow, best I back out of this tread since it seems to be getting personal
  • Peter Bateman
    Good point. Anyone wishing to briefly (and anonymously) share an experience can do so here in our survey.
    Re the excellent mansplaining chart, at the AIHS conference in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago Kirstin Ferguson talked about the "words to wisdom" ratio: before we speak in a meeting, we should ask ourselves how much value we will be adding per word spoken?
  • Andrew
    I'm always one up for a challenge @robb.
    I could mention, and I know I am going to get fried for this, Matilda Lang. She was the first to invent a new washing machine and she got the NZ patent for it in 1871. It was known as "Mrs Lang's Patent Economical Domestic Washing Table" She was one of earliest engineering inventors we had

    It is of course quite difficult to find the first New zealand woman that did something in a field. As it is to find the first new Zealand man in a field. NZ is such a relatively young country many "firsts" were achieved offshore.

    But you might be interested in one New Zealand educated woman Beatrice Tinsley. She didn't let sexism stop her from achieving. She went on to prove the universe is infinite and could just keep on expanding forever. She essentially pioneered research into how galaxies evolve,
  • Jane

    You have contributed 7 of 22 non-admin comments in this thread about "What factors inhibit women in H&S roles from applying for more senior positions".
    Thanks for your contribution.
  • Steve H
    I'm not sure i would use Beatrice as an example of women breaking the glass ceiling Andrew, after failing to get a teaching position at Canterbury following her marriage (Uni rules at the time forbade the employment of ladies married to Uni Staff). After moving to Texas, she encountered the same issue, so did post grad research.

    After her marriage breakup, she got a teaching role at Yale, and tenure as an Astronomy Professor, but she had to give up custody of her two adopted children to her ex-husband to make the move from Texas, sadly she died aged 40 from skin cancer.

    But certainly a brilliant mind, and science was the poorer for her not getting started sooner, and dying at a young age .
  • Andrew
    Seems to me you, and others, are missing the critical part in the OP. Which is "What is your experience?"

    Strikes me that is an open invitation for any one to express a view. Had OP wanted a specific gender response I'm sure the question might have been, say, "As a woman, what is your experience?"

    And if that were indeed the case I would look forward to responses from say, the Executive Director, the 2 Business Managers and the 2 Project Managers of HASANZ who fill five out of 6 positions in that organization. Or the CEO of the Safety Council of NZ.

    And as this is my 8th post in this thread, and for the sake of a better understanding, do we get judged on quantity?
  • Janet Mary Houston
    Less than 5 years ago I was told by a National Operations Manager of large business with 8 branches - that I had all the knowledge, experience and relationships necessary to be their first female branch manager here in Wellington. Only to be informed the following day that actually they were not ready to break the glass ceiling as there as yet were no other female branch managers in their business. Jane nailed it - here is yet another man telling us the glass ceiling doesn't exist and I've felt it first hand - thankfully there were some male voices of reason and enlightenment on this thread.
  • Steve H
    What was the outcome Janet, have you stuck with this shorted sighted company? Are you aware of how well the appointee they went with has performed?

    Do we need to start a list of companies that support females in their management structure?
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