Rebranding the unpaid contribution of women

At the 2018 Irene Longman Oration, Professor Fine presented in great detail why there needs to be a change in the dialogue and action around diversity and inclusion. Moving away from the business case argument, away from the purely economic or legal foundation behind encouraging diverse and inclusive workplaces – towards a more just and a fair approach.

As part of the Oration, Professor Fine drew attention to the work of Irene Longman and her advocacy around the value of women’s contributions in her time. Professor Fine also spoke to Marilyn Waring and her efforts during the 80’s and launching feminist economics.

As an esteemed professor having worked at a business school for a number of years, suggested that some rebranding is in order and took the liberty of drafting a few suggestions for the unpaid contributions women largely tend to make in society.

Caring for an elderly parent should now be known as – “In Kind Contributions to the State Product, Budget for Social, Medical, Emergency, Financial Accounting Secretarial and Clerical Services.”

Child care is of course better known as – “Human Capital Development.”

When supporting a child involves chauffeuring a child to school or to an enriching extracurricular activity, then it is – “Human Capital Development with Provision of Infrastructure Gap Coverage.”

Shopping, cooking, laundry, and all tasks that replenishes, refuels, rests or re-clothes a worker, these tasks can be rebranded as – “Human Resources Depreciation Minimization.”

All jest aside, Professor Fine also raised that with maleness and masculinity as the norm, for centuries gender equality advocates have been required to prove women’s worth and value. So in the struggle for suffrage in the U.S campaigners often base their arguments on women’s natural right to a political voice.

When these arguments fall on unsympathetic ears, campaigners sometimes turn to arguments based on the societal advantages that would come from women’s emancipation. These expediency arguments as they have been described, in part as sociologist Holly MacKinnon put it, to quote her, stressed women’s unique and feminine abilities extolling the virtues that women would bring into politics because women were different. ‘Bringing women’s nurturing, selfless and prudent qualities in the political sphere would, by counterbalancing men’s more selfish and domineering natures, be particularly helpful for addressing problems involving women’s areas of special expertise. Mainly women, children and families.’

Perhaps it is time to change to perception around the unpaid contribution of women towards society, encourage diversity and inclusion beyond economics and profits – because ultimately, having equal representation in a workforce is the right thing to do.

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