Amidst some gratuitous sneering, Paul Winter (“I am woman, hear me roar”, Letters, September 7) seems to propose that society should accept sufficient progress has been made by Australian women towards equality and to go further would somehow interfere with biological determinism.
He also apparently believes that campaigning for equality in pay and other workplace issues here somehow takes insufficient heed of the appalling treatment of women in other nations and cultures.
Both propositions are false.
Women, and men who support equality, have achieved significant reforms in developed nations such as Australia that include equal pay by law (if not in practice), the right to vote and hold public office, remaining in public employment after marriage and equal rights to education.
These certainly are beyond the rights enjoyed in some other societies — a point extensively addressed in Joan Lemaire’s article about the UN conference (“Power and privileges: equity sticking points” (Education, September 7) to which Winter refers, without acknowledging this point.
Fighting for female rights (to education, safety, respect) in more oppressive regimes is not undermined by seeking to extend rights in more progressive societies any more than campaigning for better pay in Australia undermines poorly-paid workers elsewhere. On the contrary, global insistence on fairness advances everyone.
Within Australia, equal pay by law has been achieved quite recently. The 1963 teachers’ decision was something of a breakthrough.
In private enterprise in the late 1960s, I worked alongside women doing exactly the same job being paid less, by law. Assumptions about careers and promotions created an expectation and culture that this was as it should be.
This culture has receded but not disappeared; when it does, we might idly speculate whether women are “intrinsically” less career-oriented than men.