Women, Work and Economic Security: Covid 19 and a Gender Equal Recovery

Australian women have been hard hit by two years of COVID-19 crisis with long term implications for economic security in older age. Pre-COVID labour market inequalities and the unequal distribution of unpaid labour at home between men and women have been exacerbated and amplified by successive lockdowns.

Women working in frontline sectors have experienced work intensification and heightened exposure to the virus and fear of bringing it home to family. Reflecting extreme labour market gender segregation, women working in highly feminised sectors like hospitality, accommodation and the arts have had their working hours reduced or lost their jobs.

Alongside economic turmoil, the pressure to manage online schooling and the care for elderly parents or family members under rolling lockdown conditions, has had a damaging impact on women’s well-being, mental health and safety. Two years of serious disruption to women paid and unpaid work is set to have a serious impact on women’s future economic security and wellbeing in older age.

In this presentation we outline the gendered impact of the pandemic experience for Australian women and the gender-responsive policy settings and business practices urgently needed to design gender equality and economic security into the COVID recovery.

Moderated by: Kara Keys, National Chair, Women in Super









Elizabeth Hill is Associate Professor in political economy at The University of Sydney. Elizabeth is Deputy Director the Gender Equality in Working Life Research Initiative at The University of Sydney and co-convenor of the Australian Work and Family Policy Roundtable. As a leading researcher on the future of women, work and care in Australia and the Asian region, she has collaborated on research into gender equality, work and care with leading national and international institutions, including the International Labour Organisation and UN Women. Elizabeth has served as a non-executive director on a number of non-profit Boards, and is an experienced media commentator and advisor to government, unions, and business





Rae Cooper AO is Professor of Gender, Work and Employment Relations at the University of Sydney, where she is Director of the Gender Equality in Working Life Research Initiative and co-Director of the Women, Work Research Group. She is an editor of the Journal of Industrial Relations, an ARC Future Fellow and President Elect of the International Labor and Employment Relations Association.  Rae has researched and published extensively across many aspects of women’s working lives including career navigation, working life in very male dominated sectors and respect and equality at work.  She has collaborated with key Australian and organisations in her work including the AICD, the ACTU, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the NSW Law Society and the OECD. Rae was made an officer of the Order of Australia in 2019 recognition of her contributions to Australian higher education and to workplace policy and practice.



Wednesday 13 October 2021


10.30am - 12.00pm


Online via Zoom
Attendees will receive Zoom details 3 days prior to the event


Panel discussion with Q&A

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