Gender equity policy in Australia: Past and present

Noeline Kyle (with J. Wright, J. Jones, J. James)
Vol 10, Number 1, p.12
What the following discussion purports to do is sketch a brief but relevant historical background to gender equity and connect that to recent policy change in Australian education and analyse the place of female education in it. A recent report on careers' advice, industry attitudes and student perceptions about female entry in non-traditional study and work in the Illawarra (South Coast of NSW) concludes that if real change is to occur then schools, industry and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) will need extensive staff development and support if those girls who decide to take on non-traditional work are to succeed. Young women will need more up-to-date, relevant and specific information as well as support and encouragement. Trade teachers and a majority of industry personnel interviewed as part of the study either opposed the entry of women to the trades or dismissed them as incompetent or inadequate to the study/work attached to the trade/technical area (Kyle et al, 1990). Such attitudes are widespread despite Anti-Discrimination legislation and non-sexist education policies in all Australian states. The beliefs about female inferiority and difference which inform them have changed minimally from the more overt and damaging sexist nature of schooling for girls in the past.