Volume 4, Issue 3, 2004
Fakes, Copies and Originals
Maree V. Boyle, Amanda Roan
From Working Man’s Paradise to Women in Business
The Contribution of Australian Feminism to the Understanding of Women’s Economic Position within Australian Society
In this paper we discuss how Australian feminism has contributed to a better understanding of women’s economic position within Australian society. Through this analysis we seek to shed some light on the current implementation of the ‘women in business’ policy in Australia. We trace the development of this position from the early beginnings of unionism and wage centralisation through to the social change movements of the 1960s and 1970s. We then examine how the neo-liberal turn of the 1990s manifested itself in a move from a focus on numerical representation of women, through Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action policies and initiatives, to one that concentrated on an individualist approach to women in business. We conclude that feminism has had its most significant impact at the level of public policy. However, recent epistemological turns in Australian feminism appear to have resulted in less attention being paid to materialist concerns, and furthermore have not been able to resolve the sameness/difference divide that continues to haunt feminist philosophy.