I lead the Women in Trades project. Our team investigates the behavioural barriers and solutions to women’s recruitment in traditionally male-dominated trades, such as construction, engineering and electrotechnology. In the state of New South Wales, women make up only 9% of all apprentices, and 2% of qualified tradespeople in these industries. Our first research report has been published by our partners. The Women in Trades Promising Practice Review presents an overview of best practice in vocational training and employment in Australia and internationally.Continue reading Increasing Women’s Participation in Trades
Policing Public Health
This analysis discusses policing responses to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically impacting communities with high rates of migrants, refugees, and First Nations people. First, I reflect on some of the lessons from the COVID-19 “hard lockdown” of social housing towers in Melbourne in 2020. I then discuss health inequalities in multicultural suburbs of Sydney, which are now being placed into a strict lockdown. I explore how racist ableism operates in these settings, and what an alternative, cultural safety approach would look like.Continue reading Policing Public Health
The Economics and Social Costs of COVID-19
In Episode Seven of our Race in Society series—the final episode of season 1 on “Race and COVID-19″—Associate Professor Alana Lentin and I are joined by two guests to discuss The Economics and Social Costs of COVID-19. We examine the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on undocumented migrant workers, whose labour is being exploited.
The economy depends upon the work of racialised people, exposing them to higher risk due to casualised frontline services, which have kept the health system and other businesses going throughout lockdown. At the same time, racialised people are provided inadequate protections against infection, including poor personal protective equipment.
Our first guest, Sanmati Verma, is an Accredited Specialist in Immigration Law. She discusses the legal issues faced by temporary visa holders and migrants, as they lack access to economic security. Our other guest is Professor Sujatha Fernandes, who is Professor of Political Economy and Sociology at the University of Sydney. Her research explores the uses and misuses of storytelling to shape understandings of the political activism of racialised people. She discusses how “curated storytelling” narrows the public’s engagement with economic rights during the pandemic.Continue reading The Economics and Social Costs of COVID-19
How Poverty of Work Becomes Entrenched
A sociology study of the experiences of working class migrant workers finds that the conditions of their work make it virtually impossible to get ahead. The participants who work as labourers, gardeners, construction workers and in various service industries, say that they are forced to work long hours and multiple jobs. Due to being employed on a temporary basis, they cannot afford to take the time to up-skill or undertake additional education to lift themselves out of poverty. One of the researchers, Victoria Smith, says:
“In the interviews, workers said they needed the hours, wherever they could get them. They could come from jobs they have on a regular basis, or it could come from being asked to do one-time jobs working for a friend, like helping with a landscaping job, or helping clean a house. They constantly keep their eyes open for these one-off jobs so they can get their hours.”
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Why the Middle Class Misunderstands Inequality
This year, Australia has endured yet another rise of racist public discourses about refugees taking away jobs from “Australians.” But given that refugees who resettle in Australia are, in fact, Australian, which Australians are being evoked in this argument and why? In May 2016, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said of refugees:
“For many people, they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English, and this is a difficulty. These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that, and for many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it.”
These comments are not factual – half of all refugees speak English and three quarters have at least a high school education. It is well documented that refugees and their children make a strong economic contribution to the Australian economy. Refugees do not ‘take jobs away’ from other Australians – this perception is founded in the historical racist rhetoric that underpinned Australia’s immigration policies since Federation. Refugees, especially the children of those from non-English speaking countries such as Viet Nam, are more socially mobile than third-generation Australians. That means that, even if their parents arrive in Australia as working class, the second-generation joins the middle class. But this does not push Anglo-Australians out of the middle class. So why this misinterpretation? Continue reading Why the Middle Class Misunderstands Inequality
Beyond Boycotts: Gender, Globalisation and Garment Factories in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, four million people work in textile factories. Their work accounts for 80% of their country’s annual exports. Yet they work in extremely dangerous conditions. It’s been a year since 1,100 workers died in two incidents of fire and structural collapse in April 2013. My post explores this tragedy through a sociological lens, looking at empirical studies of the local working conditions and social reality in which garment workers live. These tragedies are an ugly reminder of the unequal economic relations that sustain globalisation. One of the visceral Western response to these tragedies may be to cry for a boycott of these companies. Sociological research shows that the resolution is much less tidy. The story behind this is not simply about corporate greed. It is a tale about gender inequality and the social costs of economic mobility. Let’s start by remembering the 2013 tragedy. Continue reading Beyond Boycotts: Gender, Globalisation and Garment Factories in Bangladesh
Sociologist Shamus Khan on Re-framing Poverty
Programs that focus on the “culture of poverty” and the alleged “attributes” of poor people don’t get to its root cause, which is, quite simply, that millions of people don’t have enough money. Poverty is not a fixed trait; we can easily make people less poor by giving them enough money so that they’re no longer poor.
Continue reading Sociologist Shamus Khan on Re-framing Poverty
Myths About Science Funding
A Quora thread recently caught my eye. Titled, How do we restore trust in science?, I was curious to see, once again, the conflation of trust in science with the idea that all science is politically and economically motivated by “big pharma” companies and by politicians. I reproduce my answers to the original question and my response further below. I start by pulling apart the interconnected ideas of trust, funding, belief in science and political influences on science. The public should hold scientists, politicians and private industry accountable for Research and Development. This is an important discussion, but it often happens in a vaccum. Researchers address research demands in closed journals. Research ethics is part of our training. The reality of these issues, however, are not really as the public imagines it.
“Science Needs Women”
Happy International Women’s Day! I’ll do a couple of posts on this over the next day to commemorate this glorious day for both my time zone in Australia and the rest of you in other parts of the world. I want to start with the challenges that lie ahead. Our STEM Women community has been publishing a series of posts celebrating women in sciences, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We started with a look at the number of Nobel prize laureates. We shared our post to our other science community, Science on Google+, and faced phenomenal backlash.
Various sexist arguments followed, ranging from: “Women aren’t as smart as men” to “This probably isn’t sexism, it’s something else (but somehow it’s women’s fault still).” None of these people presented evidence, but rather they relied on biased personal anecdotes.This thread was incredibly counter-productive; rather than engaging with the science presented, people wanted to argue that they don’t think that this is an example in sexism.
Continue reading “Science Needs Women”
Women and the Nobel Prize for Sciences
Two women appear on the back of the Nobel Prize medal. Yet less than 3% of Nobel laureates have been women! Only one woman social scientist has been awarded a science Prize (in economics). Not to mention the fact that most of the winners have been White and predominantly from Europe and North America.
As part of our celebration of women in STEM ahead of International Women’s Day, I wrote about the gendered nature of these awards for STEM Women.