19 Dec WAVE Calls on Federal Government for Systemic Change in VET Gender Equality
Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE) today urged the Federal Government to adopt a decisive and comprehensive approach to enhance gender equality in Vocational Education and Training (VET). WAVE emphasised the importance of strategic and systemic measures, questioning the effectiveness of funding programs exclusively targeting women.
Kit McMahon, National Co-Convenor of WAVE, highlighted the need for coordinated efforts across the entire VET system. "For nearly 12 months, we've advised the Federal Government that addressing persistent inequity in VET requires investments in coordinated strategies, not just programs that 'fix women' in the absence of a broader strategy," remarked McMahon.
In response to the Federal Government’s discussion paper on Supporting Women to Achieve VET-Based Careers, WAVE submitted a single recommendation: addressing systemic and structural inequity within VET while meeting the practical support needs of women.
WAVE challenges the notion that targeting women alone, especially in male-dominated trades to address skills shortages, is an adequate strategy to combat inequality. "We argue that such solutions are short-term, costly, and focus on 'fixing women' rather than addressing the root causes of inequity, with evidence suggesting they are not delivering desired outcomes," said McMahon.
The submission outlines WAVE's stance that a long-term perspective, combined with a vision and multi-pronged strategies, is essential. These strategies should identify and change policy drivers and cultures perpetuating gender inequality in VET, address key indicators of inequity, and enhance the system's capacity for gender equality. WAVE also highlights the significant pay gap across Australia’s workforce, including education and training, underscoring VET's role in reinforcing this inequity.
"WAVE firmly believes that an approach rooted in the globally practiced principles of gender mainstreaming and intersectionality is the only viable path forward for VET," stated Therese Nolan, National Co-Convenor of WAVE.
"This is not a new concept; it comes from a decade-long, globally practiced body of evidence known as gender mainstreaming and intersectionality, designed to address inequity, such as that faced by women in Australia’s VET system," Nolan concluded.
Kit McMahon – Co-Convenor WAVE
Who is WAVE?
WAVE is a national network of women involved in Vocational Education and Training (VET) and adult education. WAVE provides research, policy advice and advocacy to Australian and State/ Territory Governments on gender equity in skills and adult education policy, and provides input into VET and adult education internationally.
WAVE’s submission to the Australian Government’s Consultation on Supporting Women to Achieve VET-Based Careers can be found here.