One of South Australia’s most influential women has advocated the ‘ostrich’ approach when it comes to dealing with sexual bias in the workplace: ignore it, and it will go away.
Opposition leader Isobel Redmond was speaking at a women’s leadership function in Adelaide when she proposed flight instead of fight.
“I think it is easier a lot of the time to just try to ignore the discrimination and get on with being the best councillor you can be, or the best whatever it is, and ask intelligent questions and … I think you’ll find the discrimination will just disappear,” she said.
But she went even further, adding that women who used legal channels to fight discrimination tended to make people hate them.
“In 40 years in the law, I’d have to say that by and large, those who avoid the legal path often are better off,” she said.
“I think a lot of the time the hard yards is done by not looking at it as your own personal situation but rather that by taking the line that you’ll do the best you can, to do the best job you can you do help to break down the barriers for the next woman that comes along.
“Whereas if you take that legal approach then very likely all you’ll do is entrench the hatred of women in the very people whose minds you’re trying to change.”
She pointed out there was a difference between discrimination and sexual harassment or bullying.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said she did not agree with Ms Redmond’s comments that discrimination should be ignored.
“Without a critical mass of complaints being lodged, behavioural changes will not take place, attitudes will not change and sex discrimination will not be reduced,” she said.
– Mia Freedman wrote about her experience being sexually harassed at work here.
What do you think: do women really do more harm by speaking out against sex discrimination in the workplace?