Leadership | Diversity | Inclusion

Women in Leadership: Looking Below the Surface (2011)

CEDA's publication titled Women in Leadership: Looking Below the Surface examines unconscious bias against women in the workplace. The publication was launched in September 2011 in Melbourne by Federal Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon. Kate Ellis.

CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin said the report, Women in Leadership: Looking Below the Surface, aimed to provide the facts and figures that provide a business case for resolving gender equity issues, while also highlighting some of the underlying unconscious biases that exist that are often unspoken and are hindering change.

The CEDA report, completed in conjunction with Dr Hannah Piterman, author of Unlocking Gender Potential, business adviser and cofounder of Gender Worx, draws together thought leaders, case studies and themes from CEDA's Women in Leadership series run during the last 12 months in Victoria.

"Hosting a combination of public and private sessions with both men and women enabled the identification of subtle hidden barriers that sit below the surface. These are not always readily available for scrutiny, but can see women excluded from leadership," Professor Martin said.

"Through reports such as this, CEDA aims to drive the debate around gender equity, and in turn substantiate the business case for improvements for women in leadership roles.

"CEDA is Australia's leading independent thought leadership organisation providing policy perspectives on the critical economic and social issues facing Australia, and under representation of women in the workforce and in leadership positions has serious economic and social implications.

"The need for action is indisputable and is also vital if Australia is to meet future skills and labour demand."

Dr Piterman said the report highlighted that while organisations are increasingly taking steps to resolve gender equity issues in their work practices, they find their initiatives can be thwarted by intangible cultural dynamics and unconscious bias.

"Throughout this paper, and particularly within the private discussions, numerous thoughts and quotes exhibit this unconscious bias. Understanding what it means can help equip organisations to challenge it and pursue new models of thinking," she said.

Download report - Women in Leadership: Looking Below the Surface