Strong participation in the workshop A Woman’s Place is in her Union at the New Activist Conference bodes well for the future of gender equality in the Federation. The workshop ran at capacity with plenty of early career women teachers passionate about their workplace rights. As we see push backs on equality in the public arena, it is clear that, through the Federation, women teachers are ready to stand together to continue the struggle for women’s rights.
With Tony Abbott’s well-documented attitude toward women’s equal participation and representation, and a new Federal Cabinet somewhat bereft of women, there is a risk that women’s voices will struggle to be heard. A new generation of women teachers has shown they will not take this lightly.
In the workshop, barriers experienced by women teachers were identified and ways to overcome them brainstormed. Temporary employment was one major barrier for women for career progression and union participation. Maintaining a connection with a school and teaching when having children is a challenge for temporary women teachers, limiting opportunities that can count toward promotions.
The compounding effect child rearing and temporary employment can have on women places them in a more precarious position than men when defending their workplace rights. Women must continue to stand together as a profession to demand permanency to ensure that women’s participation at work does not go backwards in NSW public schools.
Planning is underway for the 2014 Women’s Conference, to be held on May 17. The theme will be Women Working Together and, if the New Activist Conference is anything to go by, there will be plenty of new teachers ready to join experienced activists to keep pushing for women’s rights in the workplace.