Close gender gap for a happier workplace

She says her latest book, Stop Fixing Women, is written for men and women and the dispels the advice that women are behind because, for example, they are not assertive or aggressive enough.

Hear more from Fox at the CCI-Boffins Books Breakfast Club on 12 May at the CCI function centre in East Perth.

“I know it is well meaning advice but the other thing about that, I do understand it and I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t support each other and shouldn’t have our women’s networks, they are all really affirming and important, but they are not going to break the boys club down,” she says.

“They’re not going to address and change some of those structural problems. I think we have to be clearer about that otherwise we’ll spend a lot of time, and organisations will waste a lot of money pouring a lot of effort into that rather than intervening to change some of the other systems.

“The other point about telling women to be assertive is very much a double edge sword. There’s a lot of research showing us that women who behave assertively are often labelled aggressive and they face penalties. There is so much data around that both here and overseas. They get marked down on their performance reviews, they don’t progress at the same rate as their male peers, so I’m always saying be a bit careful about that.”

Fox, who has written three books including 7 Myths about Women and Work, says Stop Fixing Women offers practical tips on how to change the system to be fairer – such as flexible working hours, review of pay gaps, recruitment, promotion and progression methods.

She says there’s no perfect workplace and outlines improvements that can be made in her book, released this month

“The improvements I talk about in the book would definitely make workplaces more workable for men too,” she says.

“All the studies from around the world show that closing the gender gap and the inequality has benefits for all. It makes workplaces more productive, more efficient, happier and all those markers are very clear in many studies from around the world.

“One of the things I always say is I hate stereotypes – I hate them around women and I hate them around men because men are good carers, we lock men in to really strict models and that’s not helpful either.”

►Hear more from Catherine Fox at the CCI-Boffins Books Breakfast Club on 12 May. Book your tickets here.