Women at Australian universities will be further disadvantaged by the Government’s higher education changes according to the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
The comments come in the lead up to the NTEU’s Bluestocking Week which kicks off around Australia today.
NTEU National President, Jeannie Rea said that despite having the numbers at university as the majority of staff and students, women do not have equity in power and influence.
“In 2014, women are still overly located in traditionally female jobs and studies," said Rea.
“In addition to this, they lose out in leadership positions, experience a pay gap from the day of graduation, are more likely to experience harassment and violence, and still face the prospect of disadvantage through interrupted careers.
“Despite well over 100 years of tertiary education in this country, we are only welcoming our first women ‘Group of Eight’ University Vice Chancellor in 2014. This is not good enough,” Rea said.
Rea highlighted that the changes outlined in the Federal Budget would worsen the situation for women at university.
“A 20 per cent funding cut puts courses and particularly smaller and regional campuses in jeopardy, which will disproportionally impact upon women staff and students concentrated in these areas. More university jobs will be lost or casualised.
“Our research clearly shows that high fees and a market interest rate will cripple many women with debt.
“We will see a situation where women graduates are still repaying their debts as their own children begin university.
“It is appalling that we have a Minister who thinks the answer is that women should stick with study nursing and teaching as he claims these will not be so affected by higher fees. Are we going backwards?”
Bluestocking Week is an initiative of the NTEU, with the National Union of Students, celebrating women in higher education. Events have been organised on campuses across Australia.
This year’s theme is “Crossing the Line”, with a focus on fighting attitudes and actions that seek to silence the voices of women, and to highlight the importance of women speaking out.