Women and scientists threats to society

Australian politics has become so extreme that it is now bordering on funny. Australians have shamelessly elected someone who not only thinks coal and cars are king but who also inexplicably once said,

I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons

So outrageous is this statement that I was initially inclined to reject its authenticity but the source is a very good one:  Four Corners on the ABC.

It has been added to the list of Tony Abbott’s gaffes which is rather long. But is it really a gaffe? The fact that Abbott’s cabinet consists of just one woman gives a good indication that this is not a gaffe but one of his core beliefs. Australia now has fewer women in its cabinet than does the country of Afghanistan. In fact, there are many things that have more women in them than Tony’s Cabinet.

The other thing glaringly absent from Tony’s Cabinet is a minister for science. For the first time in 80 years, Australia has no minister for science, but it does have a minister for sport – how crazy is that? Tony Abbott has said in the past that he rejects the science of climate change (but he uses more colourful language than this),

The argument [behind climate change] is absolute crap  However, the politics of this are tough for us. Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.

In 2009, the Liberal party had Malcolm Turnbull as their leader. He was ousted and replaced by Tony Abbott simply because he accepted the science of climate change.  Malcolm Turnbull wrote about this immediately afterwards:

…the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion ‘climate change is crap’ or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.

The current Australian government thinks there’s a left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world! This is very scary because if true and they really believe this, then the Prime Minister of Australia is a conspiracy theorist and this is not a desirable quality in a leader. If a leader views the threats of the present day as educated women in the workplace and tweed-wearing, scruffy scientists, then they are incapable of seeing the things that are true threats and climate change is a good example.

A friend of mine posted the following pic to Facebook and I thought I’d put it on my blog in an attempt to see the funny side.

“Jules” is Julie Bishop, the only female minister in Cabinet.

25 Replies to “Women and scientists threats to society”

  1. For readers not familiar with Australian politics, “Jules” is in fact the Minister for Foreign Affairs. But of course as the only girl in Abbott’s Cabinet, of course she’ll have to get the coffees.

    Speaking of foreign affairs, the Indonesian government is turning hostile about Abbott’s plan to tow boats carrying asylum-seekers arriving in Australian waters back to Indonesia, http://world.time.com/2013/09/19/australias-asylum-seeker-policy-is-offensive-and-illegal-indonesian-mp/

    1. Thanks, MikeM. I’ve now put a caption on that photograph in my post.

      I will watch Australian-Indonesian relations with great interest!

  2. Perhaps Abbott went for competence, not numbers. Browyn Bishop felt too old for a cabinet post and many of the females were too young and inexperienced. In daily life, one can do a lot for the female cause. I have a female G.P., vet, accountant, architect, legal conveyancer and auditor, to name but a few. I do this deliberately. Do you do the same in your everyday life, Rachel? I have yet to find an airline with female pilots or see any when sitting in airport lounges throughout the world yet I always look out for them. Anyway, it doesn’t bother me that the crew is all male. Did you try to get an airline with a female pilot when you flew to England? Did you think about the gender issue then?

    1. This is classic deflection: Abbott has just one woman in his Cabinet. Eve responds by asking me whether I sought out female pilots for my flight to the UK. She is passing the buck to me when it has absolutely nothing to do with me. I did not vote in the recent Australian election. Voters have only themselves to blame for this embarrassing outcome.

      1. Competence is important, Rachel. Gillard is a good example of why one doesn’t rush in with an inexperienced female politician. The job of P.M. was way beyond her level of competence.
        If you want to advance the cause of women, there are many small things you can personally do in your everyday life, including being conscious of your own gender choices.

      2. I haven’t followed much Australian politics until now so I’m wondering in what way was Julia Gillard incompetent? Because to most of the rest of the world, she was ousted by sexism rather than incompetence. The Telegraph ran an interesting article about this and I’ll cut and paste below: (source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10143834/Julia-Gillard-ousted-by-sexism-Achievement-does-not-equal-respect-if-youre-a-woman.html)

        To the outside world, the unpopularity of Julia Gillard must be unfathomable.

        Ask readers of Australian tabloids and listeners to talkback radio why Gillard had to go and they’ll tell you she’s incompetent – a bad leader of the “worst government ever”. Push them for detail, however, and her critics resort to little more than badly-cribbed half-truths from the opposition Liberal Party’s talking-points.

        The reality is far different. After her rolling of Rudd, Gillard nudged to power in minority government after a disastrous election result for both Australia’s major parties in 2010. It was Gillard, not her opponent, the conservative Tony Abbott, who managed to win the support of what looked like an impossible coalition of four crossbenchers – a Green, and independent progressive and two independent conservatives.
        Despite a minority government, her leadership and willingness to negotiate led to her passing a record amount of legislation for a post-war Australian Prime Minister.

        This included:
        * Australia’s first National Disability Insurance Scheme, of direct benefit to the 500,000 Australians living with disability
        * Introduction of carbon pricing and an Emissions Trading Scheme which has reduced carbon emissions in Australia between 8-11 percent
        * Overseeing the Gonski review for the revolutionary overhaul of the entire primary and secondary education sector
        * Seeing that Australia take up a seat on the UN security for the first time
        * Instituted life-changing policies for improvements in indigenous literacy
        * Overseeing a national broadband network of high-speed internet is nation-building infrastructure.

        Economically, her government maintained a commitment to Keynesian policy, unswayed by popular Ayatollahs of faulty spreadsheet economics that have impoverished other developed nations. Australia was the only developed economy to survive the global financial crisis, and under Gillard’s leadership the economy grew by 14pc.
        It must beggar belief in other developed stations to see a leader who has delivered low unemployment, low interest rates, low inflation, three triple-A credit ratings and the third-lowest rate of debt in the OECD shafted so brutally.

        So what could it have been that made her so unpopular that her successes were ignored? She had policy failings: the treatment of asylum-seekers and the “intervention” into aboriginal communities remained Australia’s international human rights shame – but her policies were no worse than Rudd’s, and certainly far less punitive than Abbott’s. Changes to welfare that cut benefits to single mothers were again controversial, but again, her opposition’s were harsher.

        Can you be more specific? In what way was she incompetent?

  3. Apropos the gender of commercial pilots: commercial aviation was traditionally a male-dominated industry, at least on the flight deck but this is changing rapidly. In New Zealand for instance, 6% of commercial pilots are female, but of the pilots under the age of 38, more than 10% are women (which percentages are both larger than the proportion of women in Tony Abbott’s cabinet). Pilot career progression is primarily by seniority. So you’re still very likely to find that the captain of an international airline flight is a geriatric male, but this will change with time.

    Click to access So-you-want-to-be-an-Air-NZ-Pilot-5-PW-Layout.pdf

    1. Of course. And the pioneer aviation industry is littered with the histories of famous female pilots. In the outback today some mothers still fly their children to school themselves. For generations though females have been largely neglected by this industry. From memory, a former Qld premier “Jo” had a female pilot (Beryl Young?) who was one of the best.
      In the end, train everyone but please choose the most competent for the job!

  4. I find it hard to believe that the coalition has no women of merit. This is even worse.

  5. Rachel, I admit that I was totally ignorant of Tony Abbott’s gaffes, in fact of him altogether, and reading your blog has been a real eye opener. You put together such well-written and well-informed posts, I ‘m so impressed. I will just say here that my last boss used to saunter into the office, late, every morning and ask me to make his coffee. He also used to call me darling. I’ll say no more.

    1. Thanks, Sherri. Your last boss sounds vomit-inducing. I bet you’re glad you no longer work there!

    1. Thanks, choosing. That list is huge and appalling! I am still shocked that this man is the Prime Minister of Australia.

  6. I’m not sure that these buffons really get voted into office. More that, those who would vote against them are not paying sufficient attention or have lost enthusiam for the democratic process or the opposing party.

    Perhaps we all need to inspire more zeal and try to reverse the growing notion that we don’t make a difference. You should should see what we have for Mayor of London (UK).

    With Regards

    1. I think you are right Gram when you say that people are not paying sufficient attention. The woman who wrote to the editor complaining that Tony Abbott’s first actions as PM were not what she voted for which I posted in a comment above, are evidence of this. It was very obvious to the rest of the world prior to Australia’s election that Tony Abbott is a sexist, homophobic, anti-science male who intends to push cars and coal as far as he can. I do not believe that the Australian public could not have been aware of this when it was so obvious to all of us outside the country.

  7. Dear Rachel,

    Thank you for the follow. I’m not sure we have much content that would be of great interest (it’s a community, non-political site) but we try to amuse.


      1. Thank you. And, no Shirley isn’t a feature. 🙂 🙂

        Sorry about that. I don’t know what comes over me sometimes.

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