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Jenna Hanson
Business and Technology Journalist

Jenna Hanson covers business news and technology for Smarter Business™

Jenna Hanson
Business and Technology Journalist

Jenna Hanson covers business news and technology for Smarter Business™

To celebrate the 20th year of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, a panel of five influential and innovative women shared their experiences and reflections.

The recently released Gender-Global Entrepreneur and Development Index ranked Australia second in the world for countries which encourage and foster female entrepreneurship, but Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says that there is still a ways to go for gender equality in Australia.

“Overt discrimination has lessened [but] what we now see is ‘gender asbestos’ – bias built into the wall of business structures,” says Broderick. "It is more difficult to name and therefore I think it's more difficult to do something about it."

business women standing in a row
What we now see is ‘gender asbestos’ – bias built into the wall of business structures.

- ELIZABETH BRODERICK, SEX DISCRIMINATION COMMISSIONER

Despite the number of women on boards in Australia more than doubling since 2010, one in two women who have had children report feeling discrimination, either during pregnancy, on maternity leave, or in the time just after having children.

Commonwealth Bank executive general manager of organisational development Rhonda Brighton-Hall, thinks it’s astonishing the pay gap between genders has stayed inert at around 17.5 per cent.

“Every year you look at your pay and if there is a gap between people doing the same job it needs to be rectified and it needs to be absolute,” says Brighton-Hall.

“I think that the fact that as a society we put up with it is quite extraordinary − sooner or later we have to stare that one in the eye and not be okay with it.”

The other women on the panel at Telstra’s Women in Business event are Telstra’s group managing director of strategic finance Cynthia Whelan, Shoes of Prey cofounder Jodie Fox and Opera House chief executive officer Louise Herron.

For more fascinating stats about women in business over the past 20 years, check out our infographic below:

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