Annabel Crabb on gender roles and the workplace in modern Australia

Annabel Crabb on gender roles and the workplace in modern Australia


[ Applause ]>>Edwina Throsby: Good afternoon. And thank you all so much for coming
along today for this conversation with the wonderful Annabel Crabb. I am Edwina Throsby and I run the
Talks and Ideas Programme here. And I was actually thinking
about this the other day. One of the benefits of
my job, I suppose, is that it has a very high clang factor. [Laughter] I get to meet a lot of
extremely clever and well-known people. Now, I think about this yesterday
because I was at a family gathering for the birthday of my
Auntie Barb, and–>>Annabel Crabb: Happy
birthday, Auntie Barb.>>Edwina Throsby: Yes. Thank you. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that. And my Auntie Barb is a
hard woman to impress. So like, for example, I said to her a
while ago, we’ve got Ottolenghi coming to the opera house to give an event.>>Annabel Crabb: Come on, that’s a real
Auntie Barb slayer I would have thought.>>Edwina Throsby: She was like, “I
don’t really care for his salads. [Laughter]>>Annabel Crabb: Said no one ever.>>Edwina Throsby: And then– Right? And another time, I was like, Auntie
Barb, I met Hilary Clinton this week. And she said, “Yeah, what a
disappointment she turned out to be.” [Laughter] But yesterday at this thing when I told her what I
was doing today coming to talk to you, she lost her mind. [Laughter]>>Annabel Crabb: I knew
I like Auntie Barb.>>Edwina Throsby: She was like,
“Oh, that Annabel Crabb, she’s so– she’s a sort of person that if
you had to spend a long time with her you know you’d never run
out of anything to talk about.” [Laughter] So I’m sure
that we’re not going to run out of things to talk about today. And I also sincerely hope, Annabel,
that you never find yourself on the long haul flight
seated next to Auntie Barb.>>Annabel Crabb: I’ll know
exactly how to proceed. I know which topics are
off the menu as well.>>Edwina Throsby: So we’re here today
to talk about Annabel’s recently written and released Quarterly Essay called
“Men at Work”, the parenthood trapped in Australia, which is an extension
I suppose of your book 20 years ago, “The Wife Drought” in which you
made a very convincing case that men in public life benefit
disproportionately from the unrecognised and often unpaid labour
of their female partners, and that that relationship
isn’t reciprocated typically across gender lines. So I was wondering, Annabel, with
this essay, what– why did you feel– what direction did you want to progress
that argument into, and why now?>>Annabel Crabb: Well, I wanted to
progress my relationship with the editor of Quarterly Essay, Chris
Feik, beyond the point where he was constantly emailing me
asking me to write a Quarterly Essay. Like most writers, I’m a sort of
slumbering lazy person that really has to be jabbed repeatedly to
be– to jump into action again. Sorry, that’s probably a
bit unfair on both of us. But I think when I wrote
“The Wife Drought”, I did– one of the puzzles that I was left
with was what’s the deal men, right? Like, because one of the things
that– [Laughter] No, I mean–>>Edwina Throsby: And she gets
it all into a book this size.>>Annabel Crabb: It’s
like awful that it seems. But I mean, one thing that amazed me
just looking into the history of women and work in Australia is
just how incredibly women in Australia have transformed
our lives over the last 50 years. I mean it’s been amazing move into the
workplace and our on average retention of a lot of what we are already
doing kind of in the home. And there’s a lot of juggling. Lots and lots of women in Australia
work part-time for instance. Australia’s got a really, really
strong part-time work culture, and most of that is women. So something like 45% of Australian
mothers work part-time, only about 4 or 5% of Australian fathers. So that’s the kind of, you
know, that’s the disparity. But, you know, when I was researching
“The Wife Drought”, I had some people who would say, “Mate, no man wants
to look after their own kids,” like– and anyone who says they
do is just lying to you. All right. People will argue that. And Edith Grade [assumed spelling],
this really interesting research on the behaviour of fathers
of new children– new babies, found that they
on average in Australia work about five hours a week
more after the birth of their first child
than they did beforehand. And–>>Edwina Throsby: Who wants
to get home at 6:00 o’clock.>>Annabel Crabb: Well, I mean,
that was– I’ll do say, this– you know, in the essay, I mean, I could
rationally understand that, you know, if you have the choice
between, you know, a nice, predictable working environment
where, you know, you put a pen down and it stays there, and, you
know, it’s sort of work surfaces.>>Edwina Throsby: And
people appreciate you.>>Annabel Crabb: And there’s, you
know, you get positive feedback and, you know, money and stuff like that. I mean, I guess, you know, you can
go home and be there for the moment when the, you know, juvenile
attention span of the adult stock of patience expire within 15 minutes of
each other just as the sun goes down. But, see, I don’t believe that. I don’t think that’s right. And I kind of at the end of “The Wife
Drought” said, “Well, look, you know, I think that there are definitely
forces at work, you know, in the Australian workplace that do
encourage men to be this ideal employee, you know, whatever else is
going on in their lives.” And that’s what fuels what they call the
fatherhood premium, which is that men who are fathers are considered
more employable, more reliable, more promotable than
women who are mothers. And nowhere is that presumption
in Australia more radically and clearly demonstrated than it
is in that great NATSEM modelling from a few years back,
which found that they worked out what a 25-year-old man embarking
on an average career 40 years in average paying job, what he could
expect to make over the life course. And they calculated that that guy
would make $2 million of his career. But if he had kids, it
would be 2.5 million. Whereas a woman, same qualifications,
same skills, 25-year-old starting out on an average career could expect
to earn 1.9 million over that 40 years. But if she had kids, it went
down to 1.3, I think, 1.3. So that’s how the same kind of
biological event, becoming a parent, can have massively different
effects on the lives of two working people depending
on what gender they are. So, I wanted to just– I found that
when I was writing “The Wife Drought”, I was fascinated with women
and what happens to women, and how this intersection of
home life and work life leads to very specific results
in each of those spheres. But what I wanted to do with this essay
was to look at men and just look at, OK, and not in a kind of like, “Oi,
you, pick up off yourself sort of way,” but in a kind of like, OK. Well, so why is it that, you know, after 50 years of really
significant change in, you know, the women that they still
statistically very commonly live with and interbreed with, I mean, don’t
ever assume that every relationship in Australia is heterosexual, but it’s
still quite a common lineup, right? So, I wanted to have a
look at, well, what is– you know, what are the pressures? Because one thing that I really
learnt from “The Wife Drought” is that the things that
dictate people’s behaviour at work are never contained
in the HR manual, right? Like I mean, we make our decisions
about what we do at work based on a whole bunch of other stuff. Whatever else is going on in the rest
of our lives, what are the people around me doing, how do
I see others behaving? And so, I wanted to look at what the
impact was of those sorts of assumptions on men’s behaviour in a loving way.>>Edwina Throsby: I mean, that– It’s
like we’ve got three sort of things that are interplaying, right? We’ve got the politics around this.>>Annabel Crabb: Yup.>>Edwina Throsby: We’ve got
the legal situation around this. And I think most importantly,
we have the culture.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: And I think that
that’s what you kind of get into–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — in this essay.>>Annabel Crabb: And all of those
elements have little teeth and claws that dig themselves into
the flesh of man and make them behave in a certain way.>>Edwina Throsby: That’s right. So I mean, one of the– in your essay, you take her a jaunty
little stroll down–>>Annabel Crabb: I do.>>Edwina Throsby: — the history
of paid parental leave in Australia.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: And that
was really interesting. And I’d quite like start there
because I was super surprised by that. I actually didn’t realise how
discriminatory really the discrimination laws are.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: So would you
mind just giving us a little–>>Annabel Crabb: I would love to. Settle down children, I’ll– So I
wrote quite a bit in “The Wife Drought” about Australia’s old legislation
that was called the marriage bar. And that was the federal legislation. It was legislated in the 1920s I think that prohibited female
Commonwealth public servants from keeping their jobs
after they got married. So for a long time in Australia, if you
worked for the federal public service and you got married, you were
legislatively obliged to quit your job. And we held on to that
legislation for ages. The UK had a similar legislation and
they ditch theirs in about the 1940s. But for some reason, we just hung on
to ours for years and years and years. And in fact, it wasn’t
abolished until 1966. So like, there would be people
in this room who had an impact, that had an impact on their lives. Anyway, marginally, absolute
crick in the neck these women who are public servants
got when six years after that ridiculous law was repealed
in time, the Whitlam government, in 1972, Whitlam legislated a
Commonwealth maternity leave scheme. So– And all of a sudden,
it was like, hey, ladies, don’t worry about quitting your
jobs, go ahead, have those babies, and you can have 12 weeks of
paid maternity leave, 1972, and also up to a year of unpaid labour. So it was extraordinary change and
it was because Whitlam was trying to bring Australia into line with
international ILO conventions, which had been avoided by the
governments proceeding him. And so, that extended
this sort of blueprint. It kind of introduced the idea that
women should have the right to return to work after taking time out of the
workforce to have their children. But it also established this
sort of assumption in Australia that a year was probably about
the right amount of time to be out of the workforce,
if you’re having a baby, which has gone on to become quite a
powerful presumption in lots of ways. And then, so that percolated away,
and you had the private sector kind of coming around and offering
private maternity leave provisions. It doesn’t have hotchpotch
sort of that away. And–>>Edwina Throsby: And at this point,
it was only for women to, right?>>Annabel Crabb: Right,
yeah, it was maternity leave. And so, this is how, you
know, culture changes. And then decades later when Jenny
Macklin, who had been battling for a long time to get her
own party to adopt the notion of a paid parental leave
scheme that would be available to all taxpayers, not
just public servants. She finally got the Labour Party
conference over the line on that. It was not an easy process. Some of these– Some of the resistance
to these programmes both kind of back in the ’60s and ’70s and through to the
early 2000s was led by kind of, well, conservative union leaders some
part and colleagues in the labour.>>Edwina Throsby: Local unions.>>Annabel Crabb: Right, yeah. So– But anyway, Jenny
Macklin eventually managed to legislate the current paid parental
leave scheme right in the middle of the global financial crisis. I mean, it’s quite an extraordinary
thing that she pulled off. And now, I think, we
are aware of the fact that that scheme is absolutely
dominated by women. So in the, I don’t know, eight and a
half years that it’s been legislated, the Commonwealth Paid Parental
leave scheme which is 18 weeks at the minimum wage, it’s means tested. And it’s done amazing things
particularly for low paid women who otherwise would not have
been offered parental leave by their employers. So I mean, it’s been an extraordinary
thing for a great number of women. But in that time, it’s been taken up
by 1.2 million women which is lots. And in that time, it’s
been taken up by 6,250 men. So less than one half of 1%. Now, the way that scheme works
is if you’re the birth mother, you apply for it, and
then you can transfer it to anybody else, you know, your partner. But it really does not
happen very often. It’s quite tricky to do. And there’s a secondary scheme
called Dad and Partner Pays. So you’re absolutely sure about who the
primary caregiver isn’t going to be. And that’s been taken up by
about I think three or 400,000. So even if you kind of assume
that in these relationships, the mum is taking Paid Parental
Leave and the dad is taking Dad and Partner Pay, there’s not
as big or take up among men of that secondary scheme,
which is two weeks.>>Edwina Throsby: There’s an issue
too with the language around that because the idea of primary and
secondary care is you can say when it was introduced, right, to–>>Annabel Crabb: Sure.>>Edwina Throsby: — to make
space for same sex couples–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — to recognise
that families do this sort of juggle. But at the same time,
we’re evolving to a point where that language isn’t
perhaps as useful as–>>Annabel Crabb: Well, yeah. I talked to Jenny Macklin about this. And she said, well, look, yeah,
we called it primary care So that, you know, it wasn’t– She’s like, we
wanted women to have an opportunity to recover from childbirth,
but we didn’t want to be exclusive of same sex couples. So its primary carer is the
way that we’ve described it. But over the years that that term is
being used, I think that there was a bit of a shorthand that’s involved,
which means that’s the birth mother. And it’s really interesting
the way even though a lot of private sector parental leave
schemes are similarly directed to the primary carer, there’s no
gendered language being used, and yet, when men apply for it, they do
experience a bit of blowback. Now, in the states, there’s been
this really interesting series of legal cases over the last few years. I mean, the most recent one that was
publicised was JPMorgan Chase was sued by a broker who was the guy who
applied for a parental leave and they refused it unless
he could provide evidence that his wife was so unable on mental–>>Edwina Throsby: Incapacitated.>>Annabel Crabb: Incapacitated is
exactly the word I was looking for. Thank you. Or debilitated. Maybe that’s what I was
going for, anyway. So he sued them. I mean, they settled and then
they ended up setting up a fund to compensate other men that they
had rejected because they were– seriously they were– even though
the language was gender-neutral, they were saying, but really,
this is for women, not for men. And–>>Edwina Throsby: And it’s not just
the gender neutrality of the language, it’s the implication
of a hierarchy as well.>>Annabel Crabb: Right. Yeah. And this idea that
if you’ve got two parents of a child, you’ve got to pick a lane. Like who’s the one who’s
doing everything and who’s the one who’s basically a sort of helping person that
is just to get by. And it’s sort of– It’s funny,
because it’s so entrenched, and yet– and I know heaps of families
that work like that. But it’s sort of something that
we’ve got all fit into in some way. And the interesting thing about
Australia, because I was reading about all these American cases and
thinking, right, well, they must be. Why haven’t I read about
any cases in Australia? Surely, there must be some
pissed off dads that have, you know, had a bit of a go. And I rang the Equal Opportunity–
Why can’t I think of Commissioner?>>Edwina Throsby: Commissioner.>>Annabel Crabb: Why
can’t I think of a name. Kate Jenkins, lovely lady. And I said, “Oh, you know, I can’t
find any case law about this.” And she said, “Oh, no, you won’t,
probably because it’s legal to discriminate against
fathers in matters of parental leave, and whatever.” I’m like, “What?” Oh, yes, yes, it is. So the Sex Discrimination Act which
was drafted in 1984, and very hard one by Susan Ryan, a great reformer
in the whole government. Section 31 says nothing in this antidiscrimination
legislation prevents any employer from making special provisions
for women in the area of childcare and childbirth, and so on. So at the time, you know,
that legislation was drafted, it was addressing all of these
issues that were being faced by women in the midst of this great flow
into the Australian workforce. And I think one of its
unforeseen consequences is that it does really devalue the idea
or not even take account of the idea that a man might be a primary carer
of a child, or might want to be, or might be wanting to move in and
out of the workplace in the same way that women have become really good
at doing over the last few decades. And I, you know, I do
think that’s outdated. I could not possibly qualify among
Australian fathers how many other kind of like, oh my God, I’m
not going down there until everybody’s asleep, you know. And how many, you know, feeling a
bit sad that they miss out on stuff or that they can’t work flexibly,
or change the way that they work to match the other stuff
that’s going on in their lives. But it really bugs me
that I think men are in many workplaces still
prevented from finding that out. And that’s what I’m writing
about in this essay. The Diversity Council of Australia
did some really interesting research recently among millennial fathers. And what they discovered was that there
was a really significant desire among millennial dads to work differently,
to work flexibly, to work– to have more involvement in their
kids’ lives than their own fathers had. And yet the gap between aspiration
and reality was quite significant. So for instance, I think
it was 79% of them wanted to work a compressed
work week, you know, where you work like the absolute
clappers and then you leave early on another day or have
a day off or whatever. And– But only about 25% of
them were actually doing it. And my view is that based on
the research that I’ve done that Australian men feel, and they rationally fear adverse
consequences should they try to work with the same flexibility
that women commonly do.>>Edwina Throsby: And there’s a
justification to that fear really, isn’t there, with the
way things are set up?>>Annabel Crabb: Yup. Yeah, there are. Like so, Bain did some research,
I think, two or three years ago, that established that men’s requests
for flexible work were about twice as likely to be rejected as women’s. Also the experience of men who
work flexibly in Australia., again, in this Bain research demonstrated
they have a different experience from the one that women have. The Equal Opportunity Commission did
a huge report on pregnancy and return to work in 2014, and they had a
chunk of research too on fathers that had taken parental leave, and
about 25% of them reported harassment or ill treatment of some kind on their
return to work ranging from, you know, just adverse comments to
all the way to dismissal. And I think it’s very true
in Australia that we– while we expect women to
change the way that they work, when their family obligations, not even
just having children, but you know, caring for elderly relatives or
sick family members or whatever, we are prepared to countenance women
changing the way they work much more than we are prepared to countenance
men who did the same thing.>>Edwina Throsby: Well, I mean,
even the notion of a career path is for a woman is relatively new, you know.>>Annabel Crabb: Right. Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: And
I think that, you know, this points to a couple
of things I think. I think it’s about the way
that we value, you know, traditionally female valued–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: —
female performed work and how we don’t value the
carrying economy at all. But I think– You know, I was–
when I was reading your essay, I was thinking about this kind of this
entrenched public-private binary, right, that, you know, it’s
been only a few decades that women are increasingly
more tolerated in public life. And, you know, there’s a bit
of distance to go there yet.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: But it’s not
like, you know, people don’t kind of freak out at the idea of a–>>Annabel Crabb: Most people.>>Edwina Throsby: Most people. But some– But the reverse
can’t really be said. You know, when you are a
stay-at-home dad, there’s this kind of double reaction, like on one hand–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — it’s
like, you are amazing. Look at that boy with this his– Look
at that man with his little baby.>>Annabel Crabb: I know.>>Edwina Throsby: Isn’t he amazing?>>Annabel Crabb: Let me
just make you a casserole. I think I’m ovulating here, all that.>>Edwina Throsby: Let me just– [Laughter] But then there’s
also this kind of, you know, it’s a bit masculating,
you know, what’s going on?>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: His wife
must be a real career bitch or–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: Like, you know,
like there are all of these kinds of narratives around that that are–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — that
are kind of deeply negative. I mean, how do you negotiate
that as a guy that wants to spend time with your family? How do you–>>Annabel Crabb: Well,
you know, I’ve been, it’s like any other social,
cultural assumption. It’s really only changed– You
can’t really legislate for it. I mean, that’s the awkward thing. You can’t really pass laws saying, from
now on, nobody will think it’s weird for a bloke to take parental leave. Like I mean, just– But
the way that it changes is through workplaces, generally. I mean, and I have had to look at a
couple of big companies in the essay who have changed their
policies and achieved a change in behaviour pretty quickly. And it’s because, you know,
we are herd animals, you know. Like we don’t– we’re sensible. We don’t believe governments that
tell us how to behave a certain way. We don’t even really believe what’s
written down in the HR manual. What we– What we do notice is
the way other people behave, and the stuff that other people
get away with without being like– without an anvil dropping
on them from the sky. And so, I always think that–
I mean, governments can tweak, they can create a legislative
environment that allows people to behave in certain ways or feel free to. But really, it’s workplaces
that set the tone. And that tone is often set by
senior people in the workplace, and also watching other people
kind of get away with it, you know?>>Edwina Throsby: So
what sort of tweaks because what sort of
tweaks can you make? Is it around the sort of
language that you use to describe? Is it around making leave–
paid live compulsory? What sort of leaves do you have before?>>Annabel Crabb: Look, so in Australia,
our paid parental leave scheme is, look, it’s unlike some of those big European
schemes that people weep about in, you know, Norway and
Sweden and so on where– because we don’t have the
same kind of welfare sector. We don’t have a kind of like a
social insurance approach to welfare. So we– our scheme is publicly funded, it is set at the minimum
wage, and its means tested. So it’s very targeted. And it is not enough money to
be like a serious kind of option for a replacement breadwinner
wage in some families, right. So it has that difference
from the European schemes. But one of the tweaks that have
been used in a bunch of countries, and I write about this in the essay,
is just making a certain chunk of the Paid Parental Leave available, only available if the non-birth
parent takes it, right? And–>>Edwina Throsby: — As
well as the birth parent, or you make your own decisions.>>Annabel Crabb: You make you
make a bit of a use it or lose it.>>Edwina Throsby: — Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: And that’s actually
a really intelligent little bit of a tweak, because if you assume
that, I mean, you’ve got to know and understand the behaviour of the
people who are eligible for the scheme that you’re designing, right? And we know that in Australia we still
have a really quite deep-seated male breadwinner model, like as
our kind of default mechanism. And we know that men feel as though
they are responsible for earning money and breadwinning and
being reliable and so on. I mean, like that is, you
know, shown again and again. And that’s something that men feel
not only at work, but also at home like in a lot of circumstances. So if you can actually organise
a scheme that allows them– that doesn’t violate
that sense of identity, but also brings an added benefit to
the home that is tied to changing that behaviour, then that’s an
intelligent way of doing it, you know? This is how I can both be present with
my family and provide at the same time. That’s kind of quite
an intelligent tweak that has changed behaviour
quite significantly in Germany, Sweden, Norway. Canada, if we’re sort of anxious about
talking about European countries, or Scandinavia, which is always
just annoyingly good at this stuff. I went to this conference once
and the Norwegian ambassador, I think she’s now been repatriated,
but her name is Unni Klovstad and she was giving a talk at
this conference that I went to about the Norwegian system. And she was talking about, well, you
know, we have excellent childcare and did some childcare expenses. I capped it, you know,
300 euros a month. And there was this kind
of like moan of longing. [Laughter] That was like
all these Australian women in the audience were like, oh. So good, and you know.>>Edwina Throsby: — Three
hundred dollars a month.>>Annabel Crabb: A month, yeah. I mean like most of these people in
the audience would have spent that on, you know, parking fees for
dropping off their kids. But the Canada did this
really interesting thing where just Quebec changed their approach to the public paid parental
leave scheme. The rest of Canada just sailed on
exactly the same with the same scheme. But Quebec changed their model and they
introduced a use it or lose it chunk of paid parental leave that was only
available if the dad took it, right. And so you had this amazing kind
of study with a control and–>>Edwina Throsby: — Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. And because Canada also does this
brilliant, and we’ve done it a bit in Australia, but we tend
to drop it every time we get into budgetary trouble, which is
regularly so we do it very pathetically and it’s quite annoying if
you’re a social researcher because it’s bloody awesome information. This is the time-use diary where you
get like thousands of families to fill out a really kind of insanely
detailed account of their time. And that’s the only way we really
have of measuring domestic work because we don’t do any other sort
of misery thing like pay for it. So it’s sort of– The
diaries are really useful. It helps you plot over time what the
change in the share of domestic workers. I mean, on the statistical upside,
Australia hasn’t changed all that much. So it’s kind of like–>>Edwina Throsby: — They’d be right.>>Annabel Crabb: — miss
out on that much intel. But in Canada, they’ve done
really good time-use diary. So they could actually work
out not only what the change in behaviour among Quebec dads
was under this new scheme, but they also could work out whether
there were like knock-on effects for things like share of domestic work,
and the behaviour of women in terms of employment participation. And what they discovered was, yes,
creating this use it or lose it model in Quebec did sharply
increase the number of dads who took longer parental leave. But it also found that among
those families, the mums went back to work earlier and they went
on to have a more even division of labour within the home. Now, there’s heaps of research
around that shows that even if dads take quite a short period
of parental leave with a new baby that their connexion with that child
is deeper over their life course, and also that they are
involved more in domestic work. So this is where, you know, the
experiences early in the life of a child can actually have quite
significant knock-on effects.>>Edwina Throsby: Well, because there’s
this sort of assumption culturally that the act of pushing a baby
out through your vagina sort of magically confers the knowledge
of how to parent that baby–>>Annabel Crabb: I know, yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — to you.>>Annabel Crabb: Whereas, the
lived experience is of course that everyone’s an idiot with a newborn. Like nobody–>>Edwina Throsby: This is it.>>Annabel Crabb: There’s this
whole, but women just know. Sorry, we just do not.>>Edwina Throsby: No, no, no, we don’t.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: We
really, really don’t.>>Annabel Crabb: No, at all. And the truth is that the really
significant learning curve, like when there’s a new baby,
is in the first few months, like where you work out, you know.>>Edwina Throsby: When
you’re not killing it.>>Annabel Crabb: Right.>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: Where you’re just
like, and like cardigans, honey, put those on, like so, like. All of that stuff. And then it gets into all this other
complicated stuff like, you know, who’s allergic to nuts in the
friendship group of this kids, like whose birthday is it on
Saturday, later is it mufti day, you know, all of that stuff. And because in this country, thanks to
Gauffin [assumed spelling] 1972 there is like still quite a strong tradition
that women will take a year off. And Kate Jenkins actually
made this point to me which I never really considered before. But she said, “Look, I
just– I think that that– it creates a bit of a
presumption that that’s how long, you know, maternity leave is.” And a lot of stuff happens that time. So for instance, in the Orthodox
arrangement, the mum gets really, really good at doing all of the
kids stuff, and also has really like because she’s at home
has taken on, you know, a whole heap of the additional domestic
work that arises with a kid as well. And so, at the end, it’s just
like, “Oh my God, I can’t go back to work for full-time,” you know?>>Edwina Throsby: Right.>>Annabel Crabb: So that it sort
of helps to perpetuate that model. And, you know, most dads who are, you
know, at home for tops two weeks kind of go back to work and
then all of the learning and the expertise is a master
at home in their absence. And that– Look, it’s–
it really plays a big role in determining what happens next,
what happens next time there’s a baby as well, because next time, not only
does the mum have this incredible bank of knowledge, but she probably also
has a much lower income this time around too making it a total no
brainer who will be, you know, doing all that next time around. Now, I don’t sort of say this– – I’ll make this point because
I’ve recently been accused of disdaining the work of
the home, which I don’t. I totally love the work at home. Like I mean, you know, I do heaps of it. And I don’t try and get out of it. But I do think too that, I
mean, people should be free, or families should be free
to organise their lives in the way that best suits them. And like heaps of times, it makes sense
for one person to be the breadwinner and for the other person to,
you know, take responsibility for more of the domestic stuff. But our culture assumes that that
will be a man-woman arrangement, like that it’s a gender thing. When really, I mean, it
should be a practical thing, where all people are
different, you know. Everybody should be able to make up
their minds about how they’re going to operate their own lives without
these sort of overarching assumptions that are imposed by history.>>Edwina Throsby: That’s the
play out in same sex families. Do we have–>>Annabel Crabb: Well, that’s–
that is really interesting. There is like not a great amount
of research available yet. But what there is this a little bit in
the States, it suggests that people do, like they do divide up into
breadwinners and homemakers like– to a like significant degree. But of course, it’s just
not along gender lines. They just do it on the basis
of, well, who’s in what job and whose job has more flexibility, whose job has a better parental leave
scheme, you know, and all of that stuff, which kind of make sense, you know. But in heterosexual couples,
there is an additional assumption about who that should probably be. There’s this great– a really
interesting piece of research done at Adelaide University just last year. The lead researcher was Ashley
Borgfits [assumed spelling]. And this team did some
really in depth interviews with like quite a small
number of men about their– what guided their behaviour
and the observations they made about their own experiences. And I mean, most of these men
they talked to did, you know, did vary their work in some way
to account for their children. But to the extent they did they, they
viewed it as a workplace privilege, you know, like, I am– yeah, I sometimes
come in late because I read with my kid at school, but I’m allowed to get
away with it because, you know, I’m quite senior, or because I’ve
got a good relationship with my boss. Like all of them talked about it like it was something they
were kind of getting away with. Or they talked about, you know, the
fact that they were model employees, that they were afforded a
little bit of flexibility. But there’s this one guy,
actually, who was talking about how he doesn’t work
flexibly but his wife does. But his wife gets paid more than him. So he said, so really, I mean, I
guess if we were being, you know, economically rational about it,
she would be working more hours and I would be being part-time. But I mean, I’ve worked my whole
life to get to where I am in my job. So it’d be absolutely silly
for me to go part-time. And I just– It’s so interesting because
you hear so many women say, “Well, you know, my salary won’t cover the
childcare or whatever,” you know, because that’s the other weird thing
about heterosexual couples in Australia. We somehow hypothesise childcare
costs to the woman’s income, which is weird because like
there’s no other household expense that is directly tied
to the woman’s income. You know, you hear all the time
people say, oh, you know, I can’t– well, you know, if I go back to work, my
salary will barely cover the childcare. But you don’t ever hear, you
know, people saying, “Well, we’re thinking about getting
a tent because my share of the income doesn’t cover the,
you know, mortgage or whatever.” It’s sort of interesting. And like stuff like that,
you don’t really think about until you really have
it spelled out and anything. Oh, that is weird, isn’t it? Well, we like. I don’t know. Funny humans. Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: And one of the things
that you that you say is that it used to really annoy you hearing
female CEOs be interviewed–>>Annabel Crabb: Oh, yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — and
how they’d always be asked, how do you juggle it, you know? And how do you– And you’re
getting raged by that. But then you thought about
it and realise, actually, it’s a perfectly sensible question.>>Annabel Crabb: It’s a
bloody sensible questions.>>Edwina Throsby: And
they asked, right, just why we’re not asking
male CEOs how they juggle it.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. I mean I start the essay talking about
that lovely discrepancy between our kind of the global heart attack
we had been just in the other end got
pregnant, like oh my god. How’s that going to work? And, you know, God, she has
become this poster woman for parenthood and leadership. And yet, not much more than a year
later when we had those certain events in Canberra last August that ended, you
know, during a week in which we flirted with the idea of Prime Minister
Dutton and then ended up, oh my gosh, with Prime Minister Morrison
and Treasurer Frydenberg, which was an interesting event or
interesting way for the week to pan out. Just ask Malcolm Turnbull. [Laughter] But the second that they
were appointed by the party room, I thought, that’s interesting. I mean, with the first Pentecostal
Prime Minister and Jewish Treasurer that we’ve ever had, I mean so
ecclesiastical apart from anything else. [Laughter] But also they
both got little kids. So Scott Morrison has
primary school age kids. Josh Frydenberg are even younger. So his little boy is a toddler at the
time, and a preschool age daughter. And I was just really interested
to say that nobody asked them, “How are you going to manage these
giant jobs with these little kids?” Because it actually hadn’t happened
since the mid-70s that a prime minister and a treasurer both at the
same time had little kids. That was like Fraser, Howard was
the last time that was the case. So I found that really interesting. And I can’t gripe about that for a bit. And then I thought, “Well, come on,
you could always ask, just ask them.” So I did. [Laughter] Just after giving
myself a three or four weeks of moaning about it, I then did ask them. And it was interesting because as soon
as I asked them, it was just really– I mean, both of them are
very attentive fathers. I’m not saying they’re anything,
but they’re both unusually besotted with their kids so I’m not saying
they’re not loving fathers. But it was really obvious that neither of them have really been asked the
question before, because you see, you ask a working mum
who’s senior or get– people get this question all the time. I mean, I know I get asked it all the
time, how do you manage everything? And because it is a good
question to ask. But– So, you know, most of us
have got this sort of, you know, little laminated card in our person
that says, “Well, this is how it works,” you know, like Mondays are like this,
Tuesdays are like that, you know, Wednesdays, I have a
heart attack most weeks. And, you know, mine is all about– I mean my partner works half day from
home once a week which is awesome. And, you know, we divide up domestic
tasks in a way that is pleasing to me.>>Edwina Throsby: He cook.>>Annabel Crabb: He does
laundry and school forms. I do cooking and, you know, more school
pickups because I can work flexibly. Anyway, blah, blah, blah, boring. But the– Just, you know, both those
guys were super rusty with this question because it was sort of like, “Well, you
know, we do Skype as much as we can.” [Laughter] No, no. I mean, it’s sort of like how to
catch up with your kids rather than, “Oh my god, who does all this stuff?”>>Edwina Throsby: Well,
this is the thing. And this is this is what struck me
reading it is that it wasn’t just that that was sort of unprepared for the
question having not been asked it much. It was like, they kind of couldn’t
understand what you’re asking.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah, actually.>>Edwina Throsby: You know? Like–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: Like the
whole framework of the question–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — was foreign.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. What do you mean? Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: Right, exactly. Like, you know, answering,
like, oh, we Skype is lovely. But it’s– it wasn’t the question. The question was–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. And the answer really is, I
have this amazing wife who–>>Edwina Throsby: Right.>>Annabel Crabb: — you know. And heaps of the Australian political
history is based on men being in office supported by
incredibly capable spouses. And this is, you know, I’ve kind of– this is ground that I covered
in “The Wife Drought”, you know, because having a spouse who doesn’t
work full-time or doesn’t do work in the paid workforce
is like a total doorman. Like, I mean, that is
a professional asset because it means you can work long
hours in this absolute confidence and knowledge that your kids
are being looked after in a way that means you don’t have to look
at the clock and think, “Oh god, it’s 10 to 5:00, I got to go,” you know? And that is an amazing thing to have. It’s a great asset. And after a lot of chasing
about in “The Wife Drought”, eventually established the answer
to the question that I went into writing the book with, which is
like what proportion of working dads in Australia have a spouse that works
part-time or is full-time at home, compared to full -time
working Australia moms. That’s what I wanted to know. And it was– I couldn’t find it
for ages, like I did this sort of lazy journal Googling,
oh, I can’t find that that. All right. Went into the census data,
poked around, you know. And I could find out, you know, how many
men were working part-time and full-time and at home full-time, and how many
women were, you know, working full-time, part-time or not in the paid workforce. But what I wanted to know was, which of
you people are married to each other? Like, that’s what I wanted to know. And Jenny Baxter, who’s like
a great, great researcher at the Australian Institute of Family
Studies who I cites a lot in this and also in “The Wife Drought”
eventually went to work with her software and her giant brain
and kind of established the figure that I was looking for, which is that
76% of full-time Australian dads– full-time working Australian, dads, have
a spouse that works either part-time or not at all in the
paid workforce, 76%.>>Edwina Throsby: Wow.>>Annabel Crabb: Compare–
I know, right? And then– And the corresponding
proportion of women like full-time working moms with the
same arrangement is 15, one, five. So that’s how it kind of explains a lot
of stuff that you see in the workplace, because I mean, like if
you’re both, I don’t know, lawyers and you’re both wanting
to be partner or whatever and you’ve got two kids and one of
you is a man and one of is a woman, one of you is five times more likely
than the other statistically speaking to have someone like picking up the dry
cleaning, and you know, the mufti day and the, you know, all of that
stuff, which is pretty amazing. Like that’s a pretty solid
advantage in the workplace, yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: It really, really is. The other thing that I think is
interesting in all of this is that there’s often I think an assumption
that the staying home with the kids, you’re just doll, you’re going to the
park, and you’re reading books and, you know, drawing pictures. Isn’t it lovely? And if I were to not be at work doing
that, it’d be a bit of a bludge.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. There was that feeling. And even when we were back at the 2014
election– Which election was that? Oh my god, my brain.>>Edwina Throsby: More words.>>Annabel Crabb: When Tony Abbott
was pitching his parental leave scheme which was going to be a much
more European style one, remember like it was quietly–>>Edwina Throsby: It was 2013 I think.>>Annabel Crabb: It was
quietly a strangled place. Colleagues were horrified, just going
to be funded by attacks on big business and they were like, “Oh god, what?” But he’d had this big epiphany
because he’d gone from, you know, they’ll be paid parental leave
in Australia over my dead body. And then I think all of his daughters
then became of working age, he was like, “Oh, dear god, it’s terrible,
like it went quick.” So he then unveiled this like incredible
European style paid parental leave scheme which eventually bit the dust. But in that election
campaign, there was a debate where this guy asked a question. He was a truck driver from maybe
Rooty Hill or wherever nearby where this debate was being held. And he said, and that was like,
amazing, I’ll never forget this question because it articulated
something deeply felt, you know, in the Australian psyche. He said, “Well, I’m all for parental
leave, but why should I be paying taxes so that some pretty little lawyer
on the North Shore can have a baby?” And that was his view. And I thought, oh, yeah,
it’s interesting, because there is this assumption that,
you know, paying for somebody to look after a child or have a child is like–>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: —
bit of a bloody bludge. It’s a bit of a bludge. Anyway, so yeah, it’s– the interesting
thing is, I mean, I do have a talk in the essay to a couple of
organisations that have made big changes to their paid parental
leave schemes and brought about some big changes in behaviour. And I’ve talked to some people that–
men that have taken parental leave and like a serious chunk of it. And it’s interesting that,
I mean they report people around them going a bit like,
“Mate, bit of a lurk, isn’t it?” And they’re like, “Wow, I
had no idea how hard it was until I was in amongst it, right? And I think the longer that men spend on
parental leave, the more aware they are about what goes into,
you know, raising babies. And the evidence suggests that they
come out of that with a greater tendency to engage more in the work of the home.>>Edwina Throsby: Well,
this is the thing. But it’s got a knock-on effect
to the workplace as well, right?>>Annabel Crabb: Sure.>>Edwina Throsby: Some
people go back to work. Men have reported to go back to
work with higher levels of empathy, better organisational skills. I mean, there is no person more
efficient in the workplace than a person that has to make the daycare
pickup by 6:00 o’clock, you know?>>Annabel Crabb: Right, yeah. That’s very. Yeah. Look, and I mean, a lot of these
changes are happening in sort of big, white collar organisations
because they’re the ones that are moving towards flexible work. They are the ones that
are intensely competitive with each other for talent, right? Like I was talking to someone
from PwC and they’ve kind of implemented this flexible
approach to work and changing their parental
leave scheme. And I was talking to the diversity HR
person there who was saying, “Oh, well, you know, we are really competitive
with other firms for talent. Part of the reason that we change
our parental leave scheme is to attract people, and
also to retain great staff and keep them feeling satisfied
to work in our organisation.” He said, “Well, we’re a
millennial firm essentially.” I’m like, “Oh, really? What’s your average age?” Twenty-seven. So, I mean–>>Edwina Throsby: So why do you think that the private sector
is leading in this area?>>Annabel Crabb: A couple of reasons. I think that there is
particularly in the leadership at these big firms quite– I think
there’s a strong role played by leaders like Liz Broderick, the previous
Equal Opportunity Commissioner who did a huge amount of work targeting
C-suite executives, specifically men in these big organisations. And she did something diabolical
actually, like so clever, I mean appallingly clever, in many ways. And that is, you know, because
traditionally, things like, you know, gender equity was a thing that
women argued for as a sort of like, this is the fair thing to do. And so, in every sort of becoming to
have some nagging woman who’s like, “What about the blah, blah, blah? Why aren’t there more women?” They’d be like, “Oh,
god, yeah, I don’t know, maybe appoint another woman
[inaudible], whatever.” But what’s happened I think in the
last decade is that the argument or the workplace debate about
gender equity has become much more of a business case model thing. So there’s a heap more research
into not just, you know, gender equity as a fair thing to
do, but also as a smart thing to do as you have more and more
resources sunk into research into whether diverse
organisations make better decisions and do better in business. And there is an overwhelming weight of
evidence that suggest that’s the case. I think there’s also now
particularly among these sort of professional services firms,
there’s a real race on for talent and a great emphasis on
retaining good staff. And if you can build confidence and earn
the respect and trust of an employee by showing them some trust and
allowing them to integrate their work and family life better, then you end up with a more engaged
employee who’s less likely to skip off and accept a better offer. And I have to say too, there is some
rather dreadful research that indicates that if you give people flexibility to
organise their life and work in a way that decreases the stress of that
interaction, they’re actually capable of doing more hours of work awake. There’s a very frightening
IBM– huge IBM study into this, into what they call the breakpoint,
which is literally the point at which your work and family
obligations escalate to the point where you openly break down and
start drinking Cooking Sherry in the afternoon. Like, it’s sort of like– And
it’s something like, you know, 60 hours a week or something. I’m making up the numbers here. I can’t remember exactly
what numbers were. But they worked out that if they are– parents who were allowed to work flexibly could then
increase their breakpoint hours by like another 20 hours a week, or like
do heaps more work if they were allowed to just do it while crying
in their pyjamas. Now, I’m not sure. [Laughter] I’m not sure that’s
an awesomely a healthy thing. But certainly, you know, flexible
work has a lot of advantages for big employers because they–
you know, if you’re hot-desking, you’re not taking up
as much real estate. And, you know, you can
actually squeeze more work out of people before they
have a mental breakdown.>>Edwina Throsby: [Inaudible]
exploitation goes.>>Annabel Crabb: Yes, I know.>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: It’s kind of like– So that’s the seamy underbelly
of this area of enterprise. But there you go.>>Edwina Throsby: So we are going to
be taking questions this afternoon. So if you do have a question that
you would like to ask Annabel, if you could start making your way
to either one of these microphones which are down the bottom
of the staircase here.>>Annabel Crabb: Shall I talk about
the graph while they’re shuffling to the microphones? It’s one graph and this is a graph. So there’s only one.>>Edwina Throsby: You can tell she’s from South Australia
because she says graph.>>Annabel Crabb: That’s right. I also say dance and chance. So, and this is a graph
that was assembled by the aforementioned Jenny Baxter from the Australian Institute
of Family Studies. And she– this is the graph– I can’t show it to you because
it’s little on the page, but–>>Edwina Throsby: You’ll
have to buy the essay.>>Annabel Crabb: If you do
buy the essay, flip to page 11 and let it rock your world. It’s a comparative average
graph of what happens to mothers and fathers’ employment hours,
parenting and childcare hours, and housework hours upon the
birth of their first child. It is breathtaking. And when Jenny first unveiled it to some
conference, everyone was just like, oh. So there you go, page 11.>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: Feel the love.>>Edwina Throsby: It is–
The numbers are shocking. I’ve just got one more
question for you–>>Annabel Crabb: Yes.>>Edwina Throsby: — which is
looking forward with the sort of increase of the gig economy–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — and
people increasingly not working with the big companies that are
likely to be one or the other– or the public service
organisations that might be sort of offering this sort of leave.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: How do you
think that we need to manage that from a policy perspective? Is there a way that we
can deal with people that, you know, the Uber drivers or the–>>Annabel Crabb: Well,
it’s really tricky one–>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: — because
the kind of casualisation of a big chunk of the workforce. Look–>>Edwina Throsby: Which impacts on
women disproportionately as well.>>Annabel Crabb: Sure. And it has, you know, all of
the advantages that we look for in flexible work, which
is the capacity to ratchet up and down your work hours
as and when it suits you. But it also is kind of a super low
security environment and doesn’t help with what is extraordinarily
plain as a big problem for women when they spend more time out of the
workforce than their male partners which is just terrible, terrible
superannuation down the track. I mean, the disparity between
men and women and superannuation in this country is just shocking. And that is something that rolls on
into a huge contribution to homelessness and poverty in later life for women.>>Edwina Throsby: It feels like we
were at a bit of a sort of, you know, historical moment where there could
be a will for change in this brewing.>>Annabel Crabb: Sure.>>Edwina Throsby: But that is kind of
coming up against like the gig economy and like, you know, the kind of decline of the union movement and
those sorts of things. I mean, in your sort of ideal
kind of Annabel created future–>>Annabel Crabb: God. I don’t think that would
have much appeal for me. The sort of floppy Annabel, no.>>Edwina Throsby: But, I mean, you
know, in terms of people, you know, in this room who want to see,
you know, proper policy–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — change
and cultural change on this, you know, what are we hoping for? How do we bring about a– Are we hoping
for more generous government leave or are we hoping for a shifting?>>Annabel Crabb: Look,
I think that you could– I mean that the current paid
parental leave scheme costs about $2 billion a year. So it’s not cheap.>>Edwina Throsby: But it’s also
comparative to other OECD countries.>>Annabel Crabb: It is among the
cheapest of the OECD countries. There is one OECD country that does
not have a public paid parental leave scheme. It is the United States. That’s not going to change anytime soon. Look, I mean, one thing that
I haven’t gone into this essay because it would be another
essay entirely is childcare. So that is a huge factor
in the ability of people to incorporate work and family together. I mean like, you know,
childcare is expensive and clumsy and awkward in Australia. And that is a huge crimp on
participation of mothers. So, yeah, that is something we could do. We could also retool the
parental leave scheme in my view, maybe even just rename it. But anyway. We got a question.>>Edwina Throsby: Yup. Microphone too, please.>>Eleanor: I assume this is on.>>Edwina Throsby: Yes.>>Annabel Crabb: It’s on.>>Eleanor: Good.>>Edwina Throsby: You’re good.>>Eleanor: My name is Eleanor. I just wanted to ask about a
slightly different situation. So my girlfriend took 12 months off to
have a child, and she went back to work because she earned more
money than her husband did.>>Annabel Crabb: Right.>>Eleanor: And as a result, she
actually ended up resenting him because he was spending a lot more
time with their child than she was.>>Annabel Crabb: Yup.>>Eleanor: And when her daughter got
to about four, she took another year off so that she could spend time with her before she went back
to– before she went to school. And so I was just wondering if you
had actually looked into the issue with regards to resentment on
either side between men and women–>>Annabel Crabb: Oh,
look, there’s a headline. There’s a stack of it.>>Eleanor: Yeah. Yeah, between men and women
about, you know, one going to work and the other person staying home,
and who’s missing out on what.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. Oh my god, like there’s
resentment everywhere. I mean ask anyone, you know,
about the sleep economy. The household with the little kid. You know that thing where
the baby’s crying and you both pretend to be asleep, like. [Laughter] Pretty sure it’s your turn. I’m pretty sure it’s your turn. Anyway. So, but actually, you
touched on something that is really, really interesting and is a sort
of an Australian phenomenon. I’ll try– And I’ll try and summarise
this quick because it’s a massive field of research and it’s really
fascinating and a bit frightening. Because of the way that we–
the way of our assumptions that our cultural system work sort of
in a deeply baked in level in Australia, we do have this sort of male
breadwinner model that is the norm. And so when people violate it in
some way by doing things differently, it can lead to knock-on resentments
and insecurities and so on. So there’s another researcher called
Janine Baxter, not Jenny Baxter, Janine Baxter, who was part of a
team that did this amazing research, I think she’s from UQ, that looked at
the work patterns of the domestic load of women as they started
earning more money, and then as they became the
primary breadwinners in households. And it’s so crazy that they
had to like absolutely go back and recheck their data again
and again because it seemed to be a uniquely Australian pattern. But here’s the way it works. From a sort of zero start, as a
woman earns every 1% that she earns of the total household income, as
it climbs per 1%, she relinquishes on average about 15 minutes
of housework. So like, I think it’s– I could be
getting the numbers a bit wrong, but– and that– so that she’s doing
less and less and less housework as her income climbs, up until
the point where she is earning 66% of the total household income, i.e., she’s become by a small margin
the primary breadwinner. And then her household hour–
housework hour start to climb again. It’s like a U curve like this. I’ve written about in
“The Wife Drought”. It’s amazing. And it is an Australian phenomenon. And it is based– the best explanation
they can find is that by violate– by being the primary breadwinner,
the woman is violating a kind of a deep-seated presumption about
how she’ll behave as a woman. And so she compensates for
it by picking up other stuff. And that explains– I can see the like– I can see like 100 or 200 people
just going, “Do I do that?” [Laughter] And, sorry,
when I was writing that, I was thinking, oh my god, oh my god. And then I was thinking about
the previous week when I had like was going away for work
and I compensated by baking until like midnight and packing
lunches, even when, you know, my partner knows how to pack lunches. And I’m thinking, oh
my god, right, yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: We are
pathetically guilt driven.>>Annabel Crabb: It’s so funny. Anyway, I probably haven’t answered
anything useful about your friend. I’m sorry. But like– [Laughter] It’s a
complicated field And it’s full of really fascinating sort of
cocktails of what do I want to do, what’s easiest for us, what
does my partner want to do, And then what do our broader
family think we should do? Because often when this happens,
like the biggest resistance comes from immediate family saying,
“Why are you doing that? Oh, you know, don’t you
want to be with your kid? Or isn’t it going to damage
his career,” or, you know, all of that stuff all sort of blends in.>>Edwina Throsby: I think it is
an important point though, because, you know, in the same way that there’s
a sort of discrimination potentially against men who want to be with
their children in a weird way.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: There’s
a very strong discrimination against women who don’t so much.>>Annabel Crabb: Or
want to go back to work.>>Edwina Throsby: Right.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. Or do go back. Yup. And there’s a great Canadian
study that looks at the experience of caregiving dads, non-caregiving,
dads, caregiving moms, and non-caregiving moms
in the workplace. And what they discover is that it’s
not really agenda that gets you into trouble with this stuff. It’s the violation of what
people expect you to do. So what they found in this study is so
interesting and really revolutionary, and for me, actually represents the
spread of experience across the genders, not just concentrating on, you know, the bad things that happened
to women at work. What they found was that the
people who did not get a hard time in the workplace were non-caregiving,
dads and caregiving moms, because they were behaving
the way everybody expected. But the ones who got the
real kind of like, really, were the men who worked
differently to look after their kids and
the women who didn’t. They were the ones that got the
harassment and the, you know, funny looks and everything.>>Edwina Throsby: Brutal.>>Eleanor: I think that it’s changing. If you don’t mind me just saying,
I actually work for a company that has flexible working hours.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Eleanor: And I think the culture with
companies like that doing what they do where it’s flexible working hours, I
see a lot more men leaving earlier. There’s a lot more gender
equality between men and women–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Eleanor: — working, and men
dropping off the kids to school–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Eleanor: — and picking
them up and going, now, I’ve got to leave at 5:00 o’clock. I’ve got to pick the kids up.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. And I’ve talked about a couple of– I mean Medibank is a great example of a
company that’s when they’re privatised in 2014, they moved buildings. And so, they took the opportunity
to move to flexible working. So one of the most powerful
disincentives for people, you know, leaving early or arriving late or
whatever to deal with kids is that sort of eyeballs as you walk in and as you
walk out, this feeling of being scorched by the stares of people who,
you know, but I’m going now. I’ll be still at work at 10:00
p.m., you know, but like. And so– But by hot desking,
you kind of like remove that. And the example that I used in
the essay of how Medibank managed to change their pattern is based on
their decision to go to flexible work, and then to incorporate a flexible– a parent parental leave model that
abolishes any mention of primary care. It just says, OK, so for kids come into
your life, because you’ve pushed it out personally, or you’ve been
intimately involved in its creation, or, you know, you’ve adopted or fostering or
whatever, then you get 14 weeks full pay and you can take that all
in one chunk or two chunks, or you can just work a
three-day week until it’s gone, or a four-day week, or whatever. And that has been what has finally
tipped their participation by men. So they introduced it 18 months
ago, at which point about 2% of the people taking
paid parental leave, like long paid parental leave were men. And over that short time, it’s gone up
to about 30%, because it’s been allowed. Specifically, they’re
invited to be part of it, and they can structure
it any way they like, so.>>Elise: Hi, Annabel.>>Annabel Crabb: Hello.>>Elise: My name is Elise.>>Annabel Crabb: Hi, Elise.>>Elise: And I just reached this?>>Annabel Crabb: You put the short
person thing, I feel your thing?>>Elise: Yeah. My question is around paid caring
industry remuneration levels–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Elise: — which seemed,
as you touched on earlier, not highly valued in Australia and–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Elise: — is factoring into
the Australian gender wage gap.>>Annabel Crabb: Sure, yeah.>>Elise: So I was just wondering
your thoughts around that of how we get those wages
up and/or increase diversity in those paid carrying roles.>>Annabel Crabb: Well, how do
you attract people to an industry that is structurally
underpaid, you know? It’s sort of one of those
impossible asks, right? Like, so there’s really, I
mean, there’s a policy side about what a minimum wage
should be in that field, and then there’s a cultural
side about, well, why are we under paying this labour? Why do we undervalue it? Because we are accustomed to other
people doing it for free, right? Like, it’s– And I think that all of
these issues are connected, you know. You can’t legislate to change
people’s sense of how valuable work is. The only way you can really convey
how important and valuable work with children is, for instance, is
if you’ve done a bit of it yourself. Then you tend to really get the
feel for how important it is, right? And also how hard it is. So I think that if you increase as I
talked about the involvement of fathers with their young children, you build
a base of understanding and respect, but you also change the way that
labour is divided down the trap. I’m sorry. I wish I had an easier answer for you. I really do.>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah,
structurally change everything–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — is the answer.>>Annabel Crabb: Start
again, start again.>>Edwina Throsby: Over here, please.>>Monica: Hello. My name is Monica. I’m really interested in
the idea that at the moment, everyone talks about 12 months office
being a goal or the mainstream idea for how much time somebody
should be caring for a child. I wonder, what do people think about
how long a child should be kid for like from the child’s point of view.>>Annabel Crabb: Well, children need to
be cared for even after that, you know? Like that’s a weird thing, like. And I– You know, you often hear people
say, “Well, what about breastfeeding?” I mean, a man is not going
to breastfeed, is he?” I’m not arguing that men can breastfeed,
nor am I arguing that, you know, that everything should
be 50-50, or whatever. I’m arguing that people should be able
to make long term plans for the care of their children that would allow– that allows everyone to do
what they can and want to do. Like, I mean, I actually think a great
model is each parent having six months. I mean, I think that’s an awesome model. Maybe that’s because the way that we
first did it when we had our first baby, and it worked incredibly well. And it was sort of really only
available because we were sort of moving between countries. Like it was just sort
of miraculous, really, that it kind of panned
out the way that it did. But I mean, in my family, that’s led
to a really great recognition from both of us about what’s involved. Like nobody thinks that if you’re
bludging, we probably more like think that if you’re at work,
you’re bludging actually. [Laughter] That’s a way it’s like, no. Off you go to work then. Go get yourself a coffee why don’t you? [Laughter] Have lunch. That was like, I used to be so. With our second job, I was home with,
you know, this nonsleeping child, I’d be like, I wish I
could go into a coffee shop with both my hands, you know. [Laughter] I wish I could eat
something that wasn’t just crackers. Anyway.>>Edwina Throsby: Use cutlery.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah. So, look, I don’t know. I mean, I’m not going to be prescriptive about the way other people
live their lives. I just think that, at the moment,
there are restrictions, you know, like there are cultural restrictions
that stop men feeling able to do the sensible thing with work and
family, which is to go like the clappers when you can, ease back
when you have to, and feel like you’ve got
some control over your life. And that’s actually just a
sensible human thing to do. But we’re sort of in this place where we
think it’s a sensible lady thing to do.>>Edwina Throsby: Yeah.>>Annabel Crabb: And we’re kind
of surprised when men do it. And that actually feeds into this
I think really unfair perception of fathers. You know, how like, it’s, you know,
if you stood up in some, you know, accountancy firm just said, women
are really shouldn’t adding up. Like you’d be escorted round to the Equal Opportunity Commission
within, you know, seconds. But it’s perfectly all right to stand
around at the school gate and saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t get my
husband to pack for lunches. He’s going to all useless.” Or like, “Oh, I wouldn’t get him to do
the washing because he’s rubbish at it.”>>Edwina Throsby: And meanwhile,
the husband is getting sweet.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah, I know, right. [Laughter] So there is such a thing
as sort of like maternal gatekeeping which is a very awkward thing
for women to confront sometimes. But–>>Edwina Throsby: But I think that–>>Annabel Crabb: —
truthfully, like if you– You can’t whine about not getting a hand if you’re constantly,
“Get away, I’ll do that.” I mean.>>Edwina Throsby: But it does
come down to efficiencies. And, you know, the point
that you were making earlier that when men typically excluded from
the early lives of their children–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — the women
develop efficiencies in this.>>Annabel Crabb: Right.>>Edwina Throsby: And so it’s
like, you know, 9:30 at night, the baby can’t get settled.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: The
mum can settle the baby.>>Annabel Crabb: Oh, I’ll do it. I know how to do it.>>Edwina Throsby: Exactly. I mean, like that decision
just, you know, you just want the baby to go to sleep. And–>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: — the most
efficient way to do that is the way to–>>Annabel Crabb: To learn how to do it.>>Edwina Throsby: Right.>>Annabel Crabb: And to be
there for a bit of learning. So this guy, Derek Rotondo is
the guy who sued JPMorgan Chase. He took longer parental leave with
the birth of his second child. And he said, I just worked out like– it turns out I’m really good at
settling babies, like I’m awesome at it. I just think, you know, maybe–>>Edwina Throsby: This is
the thing, how many unkept–>>Annabel Crabb: Maybe we
just never have found that out.>>Edwina Throsby: Right.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Edwina Throsby: So we have
time for two more questions. Over there, please.>>Hello.>>Annabel Crabb: Hi.>>Thank you very much
for your Quarterly Essay. I’m going to admit that I didn’t finish
reading it on the train on the way here.>>Annabel Crabb: That’s OK.>>So apologies.>>Annabel Crabb: Something
amazing happens at the end.>>Apologies. [Laughter] Well, maybe
this question is answered so I’m really sorry if it has been. So I’m really interested in this idea
about men get a sense of identity and wellbeing from being
with their kids. And I think that’s really important
and really, really valuable. And we know that older men in
particular, when they finish work, there’s a real sense of
loss for a lot of men. And that’s actually one of the ages
at which men are more likely to spiral into depression and experience suicide. Do we know anything about how
being with their kids and being with their families actually
benefits them in older age?>>Annabel Crabb: Well, I
haven’t got a specific research on longevity or anything like that. But there is a really
significant phenomenon with men who have identified themselves as
breadwinners and as employees or leaders or whatever for their whole lives. They get to the point where they retire. And because they haven’t
really done anything but work, it feels like not only
that life is empty, but also their identity is
kind of expired in some way. And I think that even though for women,
you know, god, it’s not super easy to combine work and family when
you’re doing like 1.8 times the amount of domestic work on average
that men are in Australia. But it makes you really good
at toggling back and forth. And one of the hidden advantages
of that work wise as well. And I understand this really
deeply from my own experience when I’ve changed the way that I work
every time I’ve had a baby, basically. Because like I finished up at newspapers
because, you know, newspapers, and babies get sort of
tired and emotional at exactly the same time of the day. It’s just like impossible
to– It’s hard to do both. So I started working online, and
you know, doing different stuff. And for me having an enforced– you
know, even if it’s just a couple of months out of the workforce when I
have a baby is actually really important to thinking time about like–
Because sometimes when you– in your job, stopping what you’re
doing for a bit is an amazing thing, because it gives you distance. You know, like we’re getting
stuck in this work tracking thing, I’m generally pretty miserable,
I don’t know what it is, back to work again, you know. And that is– You know,
when you are forced to stop, you’re like, “I hate that job. I’m going to do something else.” And for women, because of the way we
work things, you get that opportunity, you know, because childbirth
kind of– if you have a baby–>>Edwina Throsby: It’s
a punctuation mark.>>Annabel Crabb: It’s
a punctuation mark. Whereas for men, it’s only really
being made redundant that is ever– that ever provides that sort of–
and it used to be conscription. But we don’t do that anymore. But, you know, so–>>At the moment, at the moment.>>Annabel Crabb: They’re the things. So, you know, I actually
think having a bit of distance from your job is quite
an enriching thing. And also, by the end of your
working life, you’re, you know, you’re good at multitasking.>>Edwina Throsby: OK, last question.>>Thanks, Annabel. You talked a bit about how we’re
seeing a change in white collar firms.>>Annabel Crabb: Yeah.>>Just anything more about what we see
in blue collar firms and other parts of the economy where maybe there’s
a different economic structure, it’s hard to be able to take unpaid
leave and that sort of thing.>>Annabel Crabb: Well, there’s some
companies like Telstra, for instance, that have a white collar and blue
collar workforce and they’ve rolled out all roles flex across all of the
parts of the workforce and getting, I believe, a good response. I think that particularly
in smaller companies that employed blue collar
workers, there is a reticence to– there’s a feeling when it’s
quite hard to instal a kind of like a flexible work system. I think that the award system is not– I think it could go further
to empower people to avail themselves of flexible work. At the moment, the Fair Work
Act says that employers are– that employees have the right
to request flexible work. Now, it’s not the right to get it,
it’s the right to request it, so. And that’s been reinterpreted quite
recently whereby there is now an obligation on employers
to provide reasons if they reject a request
for flexible work. But like there’s– You
know, I write in the essay about this really quite heartbreaking
story from a couple of years ago in a Sydney Hospital,
Liverpool hospital. Two painters, the Zammit
Brothers, brothers, both employed as painters
at this hospital. And they for eight years had
been structuring their shifts so that they’d start at I think
6:00 a.m. and finish at 2:30 so that they could then pick
up their kids from school. Now, they were not high paid
workers, their wives also worked. So being able to collect the kids from school really made their
work-life stress, you know, manageable. And then the hospital had this sort of–>>Edwina Throsby: Efficiency drive.>>Annabel Crabb: —
efficiency drive where they said to improve patient outcomes and we’re
going to make everything more regulated. So you’re not allowed to start early and
finish early anymore, you’ll be starting at 7:00 and finishing at 3:30. And they were like, “Come on, for reals? Like we just want to pick up our kids. We’re not slacking off.” No. And so, when all
the way to the tribunal and they had a four-day hearing, and
in the end, the right of the hospital to set the workout hours
of these guys was upheld. And so, and you know, they made the
point or the union made the point that there were, you know,
female admin staff who were able to flexibly structure
their days to account for their family responsibilities,
but it somehow was just sort of weird and not on for these guys
to do the same thing. And I just think that, yeah, that was
a really heartbreaking example for me. And I think that a more
perceptive approach to regulation and enforcement could
only be a good thing.>>Edwina Throsby: It is cultural
shift at the end of the day.>>Annabel Crabb: Yup.>>Edwina Throsby: Well,
look, we’re out of time. But our friends at Clay Books [phonetic]
are going to be selling copies of the Quarterly Essay
in the foyer after this. Annabel will be signing them. So if you wanted to purchase
one, I encourage you to do so. And thank you so much for coming today.>>Annabel Crabb: Thank you very
much for missing on the sunshine. [Applause] And thank you. [ Applause ]

1 thought on “Annabel Crabb on gender roles and the workplace in modern Australia

  1. Thanks for watching our latest SOH Talks and Ideas event.
    Read an exclusive excerpt from Annabel Crabb's Quarterly Essay, Men At Work: http://soh.online/3955f
    SUBSCRIBE to SOH Talks & Ideas: https://soh.online/IdeasAtTheHouse_YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *