The Talking Point: Banging on the Ceiling

The Talking Point: Banging on the Ceiling

When the women of Australia started their march towards equal rights almost half a century ago, they envisaged broad-ranging changes. Today, women make up slightly less than half the total workforce. But bastions of male privilege remain – none more so than the company boardroom.

Women account for less than one in 10 private company directorships. And while women earn 16% less than men in overall terms, in the financial sector they earn up to 32% less.

In this Talking Point, we look at the glass ceilings that continue to impede women inside the boardroom and out.

Session chair Narelle Hooper is joined by Helen Szoke, Carol Schwarz and Margaret Alston. Together they discuss the perceptions and prejudices which hamper progress for women at work, evaluate the potential impact of shareholder activism and weigh gender quotas against so-called meritocracy.

Throughout, they consider whether gender equality in the workplace is best couched as a rights-based argument or an economic imperative.


Portrait of Narelle Hooper

Narelle Hooper

Narelle Hooper is the editor of the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS magazine. She has reported on Australian business and financial markets for nearly 20 years across print and electronic media.

Portrait of Helen Szoke

Helen Szoke

Helen Szoke commenced as Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia in January 2013. Prior to this appointment, Helen served as Australia’s Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, following seven years as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner.

Portrait of Margaret Alston

Margaret Alston

Professor Margaret Alston AO is Professor of Social Work and Head of Department at Monash University.

Portrait of Carol Schwarz

Carol Schwarz

Carol Schwarz AM is a visionary leader who works with innovative people, organisations, systems, leaders and communities to achieve transformative outcomes.

Listen to The Talking Point: Banging on the Ceiling