Marlene Kanga: women’s participation the silver bullet for ‘jobs and growth’


OPINION: Increasing women’s workforce participation is a game-changer, says one of Australia’s top engineers. Australia lags in policies that support professional women, especially in the critical family formation years.

There’s one very obvious area of the Australian economy which, if addressed, can create the much desired “jobs and growth” and go a long way to address our budget black hole: the greater workforce participation of Australian women.

The Grattan Institute recognised that increasing women’s workforce participation should be one of the top three economic reform priorities for Australia way back in 2012. It identified that an increase of just 6%, to the same level as Canada (which has a similar resource based economy) would add $25 billion, or approximately 1%, to Australia’s GDP.

A more recent report by McKinsey Global Institute has indicated that increasing workforce participation by women globally will add $12 trillion in GDP annually by 2025.

According to McKinsey, key measures of gender parity at work are the labour force participation rate, the percentage of women in professional and technical jobs, the size of the gender pay gap, the proportion of women in leadership positions and the proportion of time spent by women relative to men on unpaid work (generally at home).

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