Gender Equity, financial security and careers

Financial security, gender equity and health

Researchers: A/Prof Emily Callander, Prof Helena Teede, A/Prof Joanne Enticott

Reducing the inequities for women by focusing on the intersection of economic wellbeing and health.

The World Economic Forum recently reported that Australia has fallen dramatically to 70th in the world in economic opportunity and participation for women, despite the highest educational attainment rates for women in the world. Across the life-course women face an employment gap. This begins at age 20-24 and widens in the late 20s, and through the 30s and 40s – the parenting years – and is never closed across all age groups. For women themselves, labour force absence comes at enormous individual cost through lower income and increased poverty risk. Enabling women’s labour force participation requires addressing barriers women currently face – which overwhelming are tied to pregnancy and raising children.

The Group is currently working to better understand the economic impacts of women’s labour force participation, including the implications labour force absence has on poverty risk and wealth accumulation for women. We are also working with women to identify barriers and enablers to women’s labour force participation to help design policy solutions to close the gender gap in employment, income and wealth in Australia.

Our previous work has identified the intersectional relationship between poverty, income and health in Australia, including creating a multidimensional measure of poverty. We have created new knowledge to understand the drivers of people falling into poverty and of staying in poverty (chronic poverty).

Read the latest article by A/Prof Callander –  The gender wealth gap is a critical barrier to Australia’s economic growth.

Research Streams
Access to childcare and labour force participation
Costs of labour force absence for women
Drivers of labour force absence and poverty amongst women, and enablers for labour force re-engagement

Advancing Women in Healthcare Leadership 

Researcher: Prof Helena Teede

Aiming to co-design evidence-based, implementable and measurable individual and organisational level interventions to advance women in leadership in healthcare.  We wish to create a healthcare sector that supports its whole workforce to meet its full potential.

More information at


Currently, the Australian healthcare sector is not supporting its workforce to meet their full potential. Despite making up 75% of the workforce, women are only 45% of public hospital board chairs, 39% of private hospital CEOs and 38% of chief medical or health officers. Women are the majority of the workforce but do not hold an equitable share of healthcare leadership positions.

Current approaches to overcome this problem are adhoc, duplicative and of limited effectiveness. We are using partnership, research and translation to design and deliver multi-faceted organisation and individual level interventions to measurable improve inequity.

Implementation & Impact

We are developing a wealth of knowledge around what works to achieve gender equity in leadership. We are using this knowledge to design implement and evaluate initiatives, resources and toolkits that support our partners and the broader healthcare sector improve inequity in healthcare leadership.

Current Projects:

Organisational Change Management

Individual organisations play a key role in fostering an inclusive, and equitable workplace culture, that supports the career advancement of women. Working in collaboration with healthcare organisations we are mapping, co-designing and evaluating organisational approaches to gender equity.

Nursing Leadership

Women in nursing face a unique set of barriers in their progression into healthcare leadership positions due in part to the profession’s feminine bias. We are working with healthcare organisations to uncover these barriers and co-design evidence based-interventions to address them.

Leadership Development Programs

Evidence indicates that leadership development programs are beneficial to a women’s career advancement, but are often unevaluated and financially inaccessible.

Building on existing programs, such as the Women in Leadership Program and academic literature, we aim to define a set of core outcomes that leadership development programs should address and measure.

Role of Member Organisations

This project aims to define the role of medical membership organisations in the advancement of women in healthcare leadership, and then use this knowledge to design and implement evidence-based interventions to support change.


As organisations devise policies and intervention strategies to combat this inequality, it is important they recognise that women are not one homogenous group. This project aims to understand the impacts of intersecting social identities on a women’s journey to leadership in healthcare and ensure they are taken into consideration during intervention development.