web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

“Women of Influence” awards: from the left or the right?

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, June 27th, 2013 - 11 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, employment, feminism, john key, Left, socialism, Unions, wages - Tags: ,

I tend to regard anything launched by the Fairfax Media with suspicion, especially when it’s partnered with Westpac.  However, I do think there’s something to be said for their last (Gillard-inspired?) initiative: their launch of the the Westpac-Fairfax Women of Influence NZ awards.  On average, women are in less powerful an highly paid jobs than men.  And the pay gap is stuck at women earning on average around 80% of that for men.  Many women (along with some men) do not receive social recognition for their valuable (often unpaid or underpaid) contributions to society. However, the Fairfax awards put too much focus on an individualist approach that foregrounds money, profits and business.

The first problem I have with these awards, is that it is included in the business section of the Stuff website. And along with that, the main focus of the explanatory article by Fiona Rotherham is on women as leaders and as high paid executives.  Furthermore, the focus is on individual women who have a major “influence” on the everyday lives of Kiwis.

The underlying, implied values are of an individualistic meritocracy, and more aligned with the male dominated “Networks of influence”, into which John Key has spent most of his life trying to insert himself.

However, another article about Marilyn Waring by Terje Langeland, which is included in the Stuff “Women Of Influence” section, does seem to point in a totally different direction.  It focuses on Waring’s long time research and campaigning around the issue of unpaid work largely done by women.

Twenty-five years after she directed a broadside at the global economic order for ignoring the unpaid work women do, Marilyn Waring is still waiting.

Her 1988 book, “If Women Counted,” persuaded the United Nations to redefine gross domestic product, inspired new accounting methods in dozens of countries and became the founding document of the discipline of feminist economics.

For all that, Waring notes, men dominate most institutions that rule the economy.

“It’s a disappointment to still find ourselves in a pretty barren desert,” said Waring, 60, a professor of public policy at Auckland University of Technology, and a former MP and Reserve Bank board member.

Women who do rise to leadership in business, finance and politics often find themselves playing by rules that don’t suit them – and that don’t necessarily lead to good decisions for the planet, Waring said.

“You really need to be a testosterone junkie in lots of these positions,” she said. “And if you don’t want to be a testosterone junkie, then you’re left out of the game.”

Much of the world’s economic activity takes place in the form of unpaid work by women: from fetching water, carrying firewood and tending animals in subsistence agricultural countries, to caring for children, the sick and elderly in developing and developed nations alike. Much of this is still left out of GDP calculations and policy decisions.

“When you don’t have all of that in front of you, you just make really bad policy,” she said. “You make very bad policy about the next generation, about the environment.”

I think there is a huge problem in the way economists and related developers of government policies judge the economic value of work.  They tend to ignore or undervalue the work (paid and unpaid) that has been traditionally done by women.  Often this work makes a more positive contribution to the social and economic good than some highly paid jobs in the private sector- banksters who speculate on money and do nothing productive, for instance.

The exploitative nature of gender inequality, resulting in underpayment for work, is also highlighted in the current case being considered by a judge.  John Ryall, Servo’s National Secretary, explained the issue in a post on The Standard on Monday. It has to do with the fact that female-dominated occupations suffer from the historical legacy of being paid less than male-dominated occupations requiring similar levels of skills and effort.

The case, taken by the Service and Food Workers Union supported by the Nurses Organisation, focuses on long-term caregiver Kristine Bartlett and whether her pay rate of $14.43 an hour is consistent with the Equal Pay Act 1972.

[…]

The Union’s argument is that the Equal Pay Act 1972, which extended the 1960 Government Service Equal Pay Act to the private sector, is designed not just to bring equal pay between male and female pay rates for the same work in the same workplace, but has provisions to apply a broader application.

[…]

It is envisaged in section 3(1)(b) of the Equal Pay Act, which says that in female-dominated occupations the Employment Court needs to assess what a male worker would be paid for the same skills, responsibility, service and degree of effort if the gender segmentation did not exist.

There may be some benefits to women in general by recognising achievements in business and leadership.  However, until there are systemic changes, this will mainly benefit a small number of high-flying women, and reinforce the elitist values and power of the likes of Westpac and Fairfax Media.

A left wing approach to gender (and other) inequalities and exploitation, would be more focused on

  • changing the understanding of the relationship between economic and social benefits to society;
  • would stop prioritising the economy over the social good;
  • and would focus much more on the collective endeavours that benefit society.  

And it wouldn’t be aligning itself with a celebrity culture approach to rewarding individual women (and men) in business.

11 comments on ““Women of Influence” awards: from the left or the right?”

  1. Rosetinted 1

    Just an initial comment before I read thoroughly.
    I vote Margaret Bazley for her ‘influence’. She started off as a nurse and has proceeded to tell people what was good for them in her opinion ever since and has been well rewarded for it. There is hope for such recognition for many on this blog who follow in her footsteps. She has ‘blazed’ her way on to the hardwood of NZ in a fine example of pokerwork.

    Wikipedia
    Career – ‎Commission of Inquiry into Police – ‎Inquiry into legal aid – ‎Other service
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Bazley

    Apr 14, 2007 – Dame Margaret Bazley has accused the men at the centre of the police rape trials of using a private investigator in an attempt to discredit her …

    The 2011 Blake Medalist: Dame Margaret Bazley
    http://www.sirpeterblaketrust.org/…/the-2011-blake-medalist-dame-margaret-b…‎
    Seen by many as the country’s most respected public servant and problem solver , Dame Margaret Bazley has demonstrated transformational leadership that has …

    Jun 4, 2012 – Dame Margaret Bazley credits her Queen’s Birthday honour to her latest controversial role as chair of Environment Canterbury.

    Jun 8, 2013 – Environment Canterbury boss Dame Margaret Bazley has launched a blistering attack on the Christchurch City Council, slamming “staff who …

    Not forgetting her fine detective work in the legal aid ‘disgrace.’
    http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2009/11/30/campbell-on-margaret-bazley’s-attacks-on-legal-aid/

  2. BLiP 2

    It always seems odd to me when New Zealand national awards for spectacular New Zealanders are branded by foreign-owned multinational companies. In this instance, I suggest that any woman worth her salt would avoid this festival of fail. With the obvious exception of Ray Avery, the judges panel is such that to be measured by it is of absolutely no consequence.

    • rosy 2.1

      +1
      And of those not worth their salt I suggest Paula Bennett wins. She’s influenced many more lives that she has a right to, and almost all for the worse.

  3. Cactus Kate 3

    “You really need to be a testosterone junkie in lots of these positions,” she said

    Way to sexually stereotype other women from someone who is meant to be a leading feminist. Imagine her testosterone levels are the same or even higher than most women in business. Her generalisation is about as atrocious as a man commenting that all women working on goat farms are less a woman because they wear gumboots and don’t put on make up. She would scream at that.

    • karol 3.1

      Hmmm. Well, I understood that “testosterone” bit as being about the level of aggression and/or “masculine” culture that there is in the occupations she’s talking about. That paragraph follows this bit:

      Women who do rise to leadership in business, finance and politics often find themselves playing by rules that don’t suit them – and that don’t necessarily lead to good decisions for the planet, Waring said.

      It’s about “business, finance and politics” as being permeated by a traditional “masculine” culture. So any woman being successful has to conform to that culture in order to succeed, even if it goes against the kind of culture they have previously been more used to.

    • Mary 3.2

      She’d scream if a woman said it, too. What’s your point?

    • Ennui 3.3

      You are writing again Prickly One, The hand must be better, excellent.

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    “Women of Influence” in the business section….*sigh* I think the irony is lost on most.

    I would nominate (were this a real contest, but of course it is not):

    Louise Nicolas
    A number of Greens/ex Greens that come to mind…my own bias… : )
    QoT – influential for me anyway!
    Louisa Wall

    • Ennui 4.2

      I nominate my mother, eighty years a tower of strength, done more to help her community than self serving business types. Career teacher, two decades on community board / council, no fuss no awards. All round champion.
      Ditto everyone elses mothers. They have my vote.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Taxpayers not suckers when it comes to casino lemon
    The Government should not be asking New Zealanders to stump up extra cash to bail out John Key and Steven Joyce’s dodgy SkyCity convention centre deal, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. "A deal is a deal is a deal. SkyCity… ...
    6 days ago
  • Supreme Court decision an early Christmas present
    Women on low pay in New Zealand have been given an early Christmas present with yesterday’s decision by  the Supreme Court not to intervene in a decision of the Court of Appeal, says Labour's Spokesperson for Women's Affairs, Sue Moroney. … ...
    6 days ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    1 week ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    1 week ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    1 week ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s albatross, taxpayers’ curse
    Government consideration of further corporate welfare hand-outs to SkyCity for its convention centre shows just how weak the original contract was, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says. “Taxpayers will be appalled to hear that on top of the humiliating… ...
    1 week ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Way opening for April Sun in Cuba
    The United States of America’s President’s historic announcement yesterday to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba should be applauded by the New Zealand Government. The announcement marks a turning point in more than five decades of hostility between the two countries… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister ducking for cover over ‘Diplomat Case’
    Apparently the Ministerial Inquiry into what now seems to be being referred to as ‘The Diplomat Case’ ( I have a few other names for it) has been completed and is in front of Foreign Affairs Minister McCully. Initial Reports seem to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility
    Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Failure to diversify puts prosperity at risk
    Beyond the news that a long-promised surplus is unlikely, further embarrassment is hidden in the fine print of the half year economic and fiscal update, Labour says. "National’s failure to rebalance the economy is further exposed in projections from its… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ombudsman probe targets Ministerial integrity
    John Key is on notice that the entrenched cynical and manipulative abuse of official information requests by his Government will no longer be tolerated, Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran says. “The announcement by the Ombudsman of a wide-ranging review… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill English’s face is redder than his books
    The Government owes New Zealanders an apology for failing to deliver the surplus it spent four years and two election campaigns promising, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Bill English’s face is redder than the Crown accounts. This is the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to thin...
    Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister closes down dissent on climate change
    Minister closes down dissent on climate change In a threatening letter to Maori leaders, Minister for Climate Change Tim Groser says he will be requiring future international delegations to toe the party line, Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Farewell at Phillipstown
    Last Wednesday, I attended the farewell for Tony Simpson, Principal of Phillipstown School. It was a very emotional event where many of us in the large crowd shed tears. Bagpipes and tiny tamariki performing kapahaka brought the house down and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Haere Rā 2014
    We’ve almost reached the end of the Parliamentary year so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my highlights of the term in this blog post. It’s been an absolutely hectic year juggling an election campaign… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ should formally recognise Palestine
    New Zealand should follow the lead of Sweden, and now recognise Palestine as a separate state On 30 October, Sweden’s new government formally recognised the state of Palestine, only the second Western country to do so, after Iceland. Down here… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • A Tale of Two Farms
    Pig farming has yet again been thrust into the public view with two programmes this week on Campbell Live highlighting the very different conditions for pigs on two very different farms. The first programme exposed the awful conditions on… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere