Justice for Women at Work: A discussion of Paid Parental Leave and Pay Equity

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Audio transcripts available here 

Jointly presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, The Centre for Work + Life and the School of Management

Two major government inquiries are currently examining issues fundamental to women's equality in the workforce. The Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Parental Leave is due to report by the end of February 2009. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations is conducting an Inquiry into pay equity and female participation in the workforce. Four expert speakers will offer perspectives to inform our understanding of the underlying issues - from the implications for business and the community of a paid maternity leave system, through to pay equity insights. Visiting US Professor Margaret Hallock will add to the picture with an overview of the women and work policy environment under President Obama and in the context of the GFC.

Expert panel members discuss key concerns associated with these two inquiries.

Chair: Professor Carol Kulik, Research Professor, Human Resource Management,  School of Management, UniSA


  • Marian Baird, Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Sydney
    • As we reflect on the Productivity Commission's final report and digest the Government's decision on paid parental leave, Marian Baird considers these outcomes and alternative prospects for delivering better maternity leave entitlements for Australian women. The presentation will canvass the pros and cons of a government funded scheme, the current state of play in the private and public sectors and the benefits to business of moving forward on maternity leave and related policies, even in times of economic stress.
  • Trish Todd, Senior Lecturer, Human Resources and Employment Relations, The University of Western Australia 
    • Trish will outline briefly what is needed to improve gender pay equity in Australia and then consider to what extent this is likely to occur. Do Australians care that women's earnings on average are less than men's? If so, do they understand what is needed to address the inequity and are they prepared to action it?
  • Margaret Hallock, Director, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, University of Oregon
    • Dr Hallock will present an update on women, work and politics in the United States, including developments and prospects for pay equity and paid maternity leave. She will also discuss the complex arena for policy in the U.S. with the election of President Barack Obama and a new Secretary of Labor (Hilda Solis) in the context of global economic crisis.
  • Barbara Pocock, Director, Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia
    • Barbara Pocock will focus on issues around time and justice, drawing attention to new research about how pressed Australian women are for time, and how this affects inequality at work. Working time issues are growing in importance in workers' lives around the world: how should employers, employees and governments be acting?


Dr Marian Baird is Associate Professor in Work and Organisational Studies and the Convenor of the Women and Work Research Group in the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Sydney. She is a lead investigator on The Parental Leave in Australia Study which has provided detailed survey information, business case studies and interview data that is currently informing public and organisational policy analysis and practice in Australia. Marian has undertaken a range of other projects on women, work and family and is published in Australian and international journals.

Dr Trish Todd is Co-Director of the Consortium for Diversity at Work in the Business School at The University of Western Australia. Her recent research has focused on gender pay equity, the implementation of work/life balance programs and employer responses to changes in the IR regulatory system. Trish, with her colleague Joan Eveline, completed a Review of the Gender Pay Gap in WA for the WA Government in 2004. Trish teaches in the area of employment relations.

Dr Margaret Hallock directs the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics housed at the School of Law at the University of Oregon. Hallock has a Ph.D in economics and formerly headed the UO's Labor Education and Research Center. She was a member of the faculty in the department of economics and served as economist for the Oregon Public Employees Union where she led the struggle for pay equity for women workers. Dr. Hallock has extensive experience in public policy. She was on the staff of Oregon Governor Kulongoski for 2003-04 and has been a member of numerous boards and commissions. She has published papers on tax reform, labor unions, women and the economy, and workforce education and training.

Professor Barbara Pocock is the Director of the Centre for Work + Life has been researching work, employment and industrial relations in Australia for over twenty years and has undertaken considerable analysis of work and its complex intersections with households, families and social life, which has resulted in many publications and extensive involvement in public policy development, media commentary, and public speaking. Recent books include The Work/Life Collision (2003), The Labour Market Ate My Babies: Work, Children and a Sustainable Future (2006), Living Low paid: the Dark Side of Prosperous Australia (2008) (co-authored with H. Masterman-Smith) and Kids count: Better early childhood education and care in Australia (2007) (co-edited with E. Hill, and A. Elliott). She is a Director of The Australia Institute and in 2008 became a Member of the Strategic Council, of the Climate Institute (Australia).

Carol T. Kulik is a Research Professor of Human Resource Management at the University of South Australia. Her interests encompass cognitive processes, demographic diversity, and procedural fairness in organisations, and her research focuses on explaining how human resource management interventions influence the fair treatment of people in organisations. Recent research projects have examined the effectiveness of organisational diversity training, the ways organisational insiders and outsiders discuss organisational justice on the Internet, and the devolution of human resource management activities to line managers.

Carol is particularly interested in bridging the academic-practice divide and ensuring that academic research addresses problems of interest to the business community. She authored a book titled Human Resources for the nonHR Manager (published by Erlbaum in 2004) that makes cutting-edge research on human resource issues accessible to managers with no formal training in human resources. Carol actively engages in collaborative research with partners in the business community. She has served as an expert witness on human resource issues in legal cases, has designed and evaluated training efforts for academic and business organisations, and is currently involved in a large-scale ARC-sponsored project in collaboration with the Australian Human Resource Institute.

Carol recently finished a term as Senior Associate Editor at the Journal of Management, and is currently serving on the Executive Committee for the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management.

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our cultural diversity - and building our future.

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.