April 15, 2018 16:23:55
The director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has urged employers to set targets for men working part-time.
Libby Lyons told the ABC’s National Wrap program “it’s not difficult” to create a working environment where men can take more responsibility for caring for families at home.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency found that women are three times more likely to work part time than men.
The latest ABS figures show women constitute 68.6 per cent of all part-time employees and 36.8 per cent of all full-time employees.
“We all need to support men to work flexibly. We need to encourage men to work flexibly,” Ms Lyons said.
The head of the statutory agency also said the normalisation of flexible work environments would help the “promotion of women”.
“The value that we place on the work that women traditionally do needs to be challenged,” she said.
“We need to challenge our thinking, we need to challenge the way that we have worked traditionally and the value that we have placed on the jobs that women have traditionally done.”
Federal Women’s Minister Kelly O’Dwyer raised the issue during a speech earlier this year, warning it “needs to change”.
“There’s a pretty strong culture in this country that says that women are the ones that need the flexibility, not men, and I simply challenge that,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
ABS statistics show women hold over two thirds of part-time positions in Australia. (Supplied: Wikimedia Commons)
To achieve this, Ms Lyons suggested companies put the onus on senior managers and “set some targets around the take-up of flexible work for men”.
“When men apply to work flexibly, it’s often the middle managers because they’re feeling pressures of KPIs, and thinking people have to be sitting at their desk to do their work,” she said.
“We need to remove that decision making from them. They don’t feel comfortable in making those decisions.”
“If we can take those decisions out of the hands of middle managers so they’re not feeling that added responsibility, if we provide them with support and training in to how to manage flexible workplaces, then we are absolutely giving permission for men to work flexibly,” she said.
Watch the full interview with National Wrap on the ABC News Channel at 9:00pm AEST tonight.