Uncomfortable Truths: Gender Matters

Today we’re cross-posting a blog post written by Stephanie Honor Convery and published on the Melbourne Writers Festival blog. Stephanie takes a look at two Festival events looking at gender and feminism, and in this excerpt focuses on last night’s address by Sophie Cunningham on why feminism still has a long way to go.

Sophie Cunningham’s ‘A Long, Long Way To Go: Why We Still Need Feminism’ would have left you with the conviction that sexual inequality is indeed very real, and evident in statistic after sobering statistic.

In Australia, Cunningham explained, only 58% of women are in the workforce, compared to 78% of men. Only 54% of ASX200 companies have women in management roles, and only 10.7% of executive managers are women. 56% of law graduates are women, but only 25% of practicing lawyers over 40 are women, and those women in law suffer a 62% pay gap. The arts are nowhere near exempt from these kind of telling numbers. When the May issue of Esquire listed 75 books every man should read, only one woman made the cut. The 2009 and 2011 Miles Franklin shortlists were all male. Since the award began in 1957, it has been awarded 51 times. Out of those 51 awards, only 13 recipients have been women. In theatre, visual and fine arts, these trends are mirrored, if not worse. And one set of numbers Cunningham didn’t give: in the 16 years since the MWF instituted an opening night keynote address, that headlining festival role has been occupied only twice by a woman – by the same woman: Germaine Greer.

Read more.

Portrait of Stephanie Convery

Stephanie Convery is a Melbourne-based writer and the deputy editor of Overland magazine. Her work has appeared in the GuardianMeanjinThe Lifted Brow, ABC’s The Drum, the Big Issue, and other local and international publications.

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