Women in MedTech Initiative

Published on: 3 August, 2015


As seen in The Australian Business Review, August 01, 2015
Reported by Sarah-Jane Tasker
Photo Source: News Limited

Elizabeth Broderick: evolve systems to support female employees

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has called on corporate Australia to evolve internal systems to support an increase in female employees, rather than trying to “fix women”.

Ms Broderick, who yesterday launched a national initiative to improve gender diversity in the medical technology industry, said while she was positive about the trend of closing the gender gap, more needed to be done.

“There is still a focus on ‘let’s fix the women’ rather than ‘change the whole system’,” she said.

“Some people don’t realise the organisations they are leading have systems that are so deeply rooted in a male’s life trajectory. They think they can pour in a few women and stir and that will work and it absolutely won’t. You have to change the structure of the system and the practices, so both women and men can thrive in that environment.”

The Medical Technology Association of Australia is encouraging the sector to work on closing the gender gap and Ms Broderick yesterday rolled out a series of initiatives designed by the group to address the issue.

Susi Tegen, chief executive of MTAA, said the Women in MedTech initiative included a series of events and educational forums designed to raise the bar on gender diversity.

“The initiative responds to an ongoing skills study, commissioned by MTAA, which to date, has highlighted gender diversity as a major issue across the industry,” she said.

“The medical technology industry, which includes over 500 medical technology companies with a combined turnover of almost $12 billion, employs over 19,000 people. However, women hold only 12 per cent of key management roles.”

Ms Broderick added that there were fewer women studying science, technology, engineering and maths.

“The negative perception about the jobs and unfavourable workplace environments that are ‘blokey’ compound the problem from the beginning, so we don’t have enough girls coming in and making the educational choices that will take them on this career path.”

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner said she was positive about the national discussion on the issue, saying it was more on the radar than it was when she started the role eight years ago.

“People now understand that this is about high performance. If we aren’t attracting good female talent then we are robbing ourselves of the best talent.”

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