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Focus question 3: What have Equal Pay campaigners done to remove some of the discrimination against women in employment?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Tuning in (15 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: Unequal pay for men and women (35 min) ESL Activity 2
Activity 3: Breadwinners and dependants (20 min) ESL Activity 3
Activity 4: Stories from the Equal Pay for Women movement (90 min) ESL Activity 4
Activity 5: Timeline of the Equal Pay for Women campaign (90 min) ESL Activity 5
Activity 6: Rounding up (10 min) ESL Activity 6
Further activity ESL Further activity

Handout 7

Activity 1: Tuning in (15 min)

1a Distribute copies of Handout 7 (one between two students) and focus attention on the gender (sex) segregation of the Australian workforce by examining 'jobs vacant' advertisements from the 1950s.

  • Ask students to choose the job they would most like to apply for.
  • Direct attention to the references to gender. Ask: 'Who can apply for your position?'

Students could later survey 'jobs vacant' ads in current newspapers to see if they refer to gender.

1b Explain that until about 20 years ago, many employers and workers thought of jobs as 'men's jobs' or 'women's jobs', and were allowed to advertise them that way.

Activity 2: Unequal pay for men and women (35 min)

2a Set up the following hypothetical situation to illustrate the gender division of the Australian workforce until recently, and the gap between pay rates for 'men's jobs' and 'women's jobs'.

Groups could be organised on the basis of gender, or randomly.

  • Divide the class into two equal-sized groups: A and B.
  • Display Handout 8 on an overhead projector.
  • Allocate each Group A student with the name and wage of an occupation from List A and each Group B student with the name and wage of an occupation from List B.
  • Clarify any occupations that students do not understand.
  • Direct students to look at the number of shillings beside their occupation. This is a weekly wage for their job 60 years ago.
Handout 8 Poster

2b Conduct a discussion of the differences between the jobs on the two lists:

  • Who has a highly paid job? What is it? What list is it on?
  • Who has a low paid job? What is it? What list is it on?
  • What jobs are on both lists? What do you notice about the wages of these jobs?
  • Which list has the higher paid jobs? Explain that Group A jobs were typical men's jobs, and Group B jobs were typical women's jobs about 60 years ago.
  • Is it fair that men were paid more than women, even if they were doing the same jobs?

Do not try to convert shillings to dollars. The idea is to demonstrate the differences between wages of men and women.

2c Display and discuss People Power Card 1a, a photo of Meat Industry Union workers demonstrating for equal pay in 1969.

2d Explain that the third 'people power' movement is the 'Equal Pay for Women' campaign. Write this in the 'Event' column of the 'People Power' matrix.

2e Ask students to suggest a few words for the 'Injustice' cell to describe the unfairness they have discovered in men's and women's wages.

Activity 3: Breadwinners and dependants (20 min)

Handout 9

3a Provide a simple explanation of the reasons for unequal pay for men and women through most of the twentieth century. Display Handout 9 on the overhead projector as a summary of ideas that underpinned:

  • the gender-based segregation of the workforce
  • different rates of pay for men and women (unless women did exactly the same jobs as men - they were then paid the men's rate so that they could not be used as cheap labour).

3b Explain that most groups in society - churches, courts, the media and most writers - accepted these ideas, although Equal Pay campaigners challenged their unfairness. Children were taught their future roles when they were very young.

3c Ask students what other information they can add to the 'Injustice' cell in the matrix.

Activity 4: Stories from the Equal Pay for Women movement (90 min)

Handout 10-15

4a Organise students into five groups. Each group will investigate the story of a person and an event in the Equal Pay for Women movement using the sources on the Handouts. Provide each group with:

  • Handout 10 (one per two students)
  • one of the stories from the Equal Pay for Women movement - Handouts 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (one copy of one story per student).

Rosa (Handout 11) is a fictitious person. All the other people are actual people. Muriel Heagney's biography is on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM.

4b Students should write a summary of their story in their 'People Power' journals, which includes:

  • the person's name
  • two important facts about her
  • what happened in the year/s printed in bold in their story
  • why this event (or events) was important in the campaign for equal pay for women
  • a headline of up to six words which says something important about their person.

4c Invite each group to share their story from the Equal Pay for Women movement, reporting in chronological sequence, following Handout numbers.

Stories of  Democracy 4d Ask students to make inferences about the ideas and values that were important to the Equal Pay campaigners. They should suggest words to describe the campaigners' actions. Record these in the 'Action' cell on the 'People Power' matrix, eg lobbying, stop work (strike), demonstrations, legal action, use of the media.

Activity 5: Timeline of the Equal Pay for Women campaign
(90 min)

5a Display the prepared timeline 'Some events in the Equal Pay for Women campaign'.

5b Invite students to contribute events in the form of words, slogans, symbols etc, placed at appropriate points along the timeline.

5c Outline the next step in the campaign - legislation. Explain that the 'people power' built up by the Equal Pay campaign put pressure on state and Commonwealth governments to make laws about equal opportunity and against sex discrimination.

Refer to the definition of Equal Opportunity legislation on Handout 10.

Table 4 Some Equal Opportunity legislation

1975 Sex Discrimination Act SA
1977 Anti-Discrimination Act NSW
1977 Equal Opportunity Act Vic
1984 Equal Opportunity Act WA
1984 Sex Discrimination Act Commonwealth
1991 Discrimination Act ACT
1994 Anti-Discrimination Act NT

5d Explain that it is now unlawful for an advertiser to show any intention to discriminate on the basis of gender (or race, age etc).

Handout 7 5e Discuss the pattern illustrated by the timeline, focusing on:

  • the long time between the start of the campaign and significant results, such as legislation against sex discrimination
  • the impact of World War II on women's wages
  • the actions and events of the 1960s and 1970s that mobilised 'people power' in support of equal pay.

Activity 6: Rounding up (10 min)

6a Display and discuss the focus question for this section.

6b Complete the 'Equal Pay for Women' row on the matrix. Ask students to suggest a few words to describe the results of the Equal Pay for Women campaign. Help students to come up with consequences such as 'no more division of work into men's jobs and women's jobs', 'now illegal to discriminate against women in employment and advertising', 'equal pay - in theory - for men and women' etc.

Further activity

Students could interview women (mothers, grandmothers, teachers, neighbours) about their experiences of job opportunities and wages.

ESL activities

Back to 'People Power - At a glance'

AcknowledgementsLegal Information