Why don’t senior women win awards?

Victorian women missing in action in seniors’ awards.

older women at lunch

I was sitting at my desk last Friday, signing off on the final detail of the September 2017 Retirement Affordability Index, when I received an angry email from a dear and trusted friend.

“WTF is going on with the Seniors’ Week awards,” she asked? “Was it mates of Harvey Weinstein who made the decision?”

Wow! What was going on that made my (usually) mild-mannered friend so furious? So I followed the link to the list of awards, given by the Victorian Government, to honour the contribution of older Victorians

And I could see the problem.

Of the 15 awards, 10 went to men, four to women and one to an organisation.

We checked the Australian Bureau of Statistics most recent release for the percentages of males and females aged 60 and over, and it is 47 per cent males and 53 per cent females. So if the awards were representative of people in the age group, it would mean eight would have gone to women and seven to men.

But no, not so.

Now to be fair to all the winners, it is important to note that each and every one seems to have made a valuable contribution to their community and the state of Victoria.

But why are women so under recognised? Is it because no one nominated them? Are you meant to nominate yourself? And if so, are men more inclined to do this that women? Maybe women are so busy doing volunteer work they didn’t have time to nominate? It’s hard to discern.

But as my (now) feisty friend pointed out – and forgive her language - she really is cross:

“FFS we crush men when it comes to volunteering and making a difference in our community. And we do it right through our lives, not just when we’ve got time. We make time right through our lives for what matters.

“Who was making the decision? I reckon it might be a friend of Harvey Weinstein’s who also grew up in a different era, an era when women’s contribution was secondary to that of men, whatever form it took.”

I’m with her on this point. During the time I have worked on the YourLifeChoices website (17 years), I have witnessed an amazing willingness from older men and women to step up and volunteer, giving their time and energy for the benefit of others.

But when it comes to women, it is situation normal for so many who have done this at most stages of their lives, as kindergarten mum, school canteen workers, sports club organisers, and carers of friends and relatives. They just don’t shout about it.

So let’s see if we can even the playing field and work towards a much fairer situation in 2018, where at least 50 per cent of the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards are presented to women who are working in their communities. To bring this about, YourLifeChoices will send a copy of this article to Martin Foley, the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing and ask him if he is happy to consider this request. We will let you know how we get on.

What do you think? Should the seniors awards be gender representative? Are you, like Kaye’s feisty friend, bothered that only four women made the cut?

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Ted Wards
    20th Oct 2017
    10:23am
    To be honest I would rather if focus on what individuals do, not the gender. Even this article only focuses on male and female genders, what about transgenders etc? Gender as reason needs to go from everything. What about other states? How did their awards go?
    Frank
    20th Oct 2017
    10:33am
    If you did some further research you'd discover that in 2016 and 2015 eight women received an award and, in 2016, three of the top four awards (including the top honour) went to women, so the awards are hardly gender-biased.

    Are you suggesting one of the 2017 male recipients should not receive recognition and instead the award go to a woman simply on the basis of gender? Wouldn't that be tokenism?

    Articles such as this do nothing other than to discredit the recipients. Thought you were better than that.
    Ted Wards
    20th Oct 2017
    10:43am
    Totally agree with you Frank. It should be based on merit and nothing else. Volunteering is slowly going and we should be focusing on encouraging people to volunteer, not awards, not gender.
    Tib
    20th Oct 2017
    11:18am
    Well said Frank. But don't expect common sense to have any impact.
    Janran
    20th Oct 2017
    12:36pm
    Kaye's 4th paragraph clearly states: "Now to be fair to all the winners, it is important to note that each and every one seems to have made a valuable contribution to their community and the state of Victoria."

    Frank, I think you should retract your statement: "Articles such as this do nothing other than to discredit the recipients. Thought you were better than that."

    Most volunteers (women) I know don't blow their own trumpets. They give freely because it makes them feel good to help other people in need or worthy causes.
    Frank
    20th Oct 2017
    12:50pm
    Janran, Kaye said the winners "seem" to have made a valuable contribution. If you read their biographies it's pretty clear they did, so I don't see why anyone should question their worthiness to receive them, let alone imply there may be some wriggle room in their validity.

    Kaye says the playing field is uneven and unfair, which is absurd when you look at the past three years. But, you're right, women don't blow their own trumpet. And neither do men. None of the recipients nominated themselves.

    This article is clearly under-researched, hence why I "thought you were better than that".
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2017
    3:28pm
    Typical of the wimminists to whinge when they're not on top.
    Tib
    20th Oct 2017
    11:08am
    Give it to the most deserving, I wouldn't care if they gave all the awards to women if they were the best candidates. Why do feminists always have to look at everything in terms of gender. Why give awards to men or women simply because of their gender. Sometimes men get the awards sometimes women, it's about time feminists stop being so childish. But I won't hold my breath.
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2017
    3:30pm
    "Why do feminists always have to look at everything in terms of gender."

    Answer: Because they're mentally defective.
    bob
    20th Oct 2017
    11:08am
    Her friend sounds like one of those activists whose catch-cry seems to be women must make up at least 50% of everything whether suited to the tasks or not.
    GeorgeM
    20th Oct 2017
    11:02pm
    Agree, we can do without promotion of such feminist crap from Kaye's friend via this website. Otherwise, how about quotas for Blacks, Chinese, Indians, Aborigines, etc, etc, who are also not being recognised? Stick to recognition by MERIT only!
    sunny
    20th Oct 2017
    11:30am
    f g s d w n s o t s

    and the award goes to the person (perSON) human (huMAN) who can work that out.
    JAID
    20th Oct 2017
    1:53pm
    Interesting thought Sunny. I have not heard the "SON" picked out before. Unlikely I think to be derived with any reference to male offspring but it looks good. Even "human" probably has a more circuitous deriviation with the likes of "homo" and "hominid" closer to earlier forms. The french had already made the partisan distinction in "homme" Around the time "man" came to be used to infer "mankind" there would have been a gender-biased choice made I suppose. I do wonder how people differentiated between males, females animals and Gods prior to that. Blokes, Shielas, Godzone (ie. superior to animals) and the almightily unknowable.
    Tib
    20th Oct 2017
    3:10pm
    I am laughing I hope you ment it as a joke. You never know these days.
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2017
    3:34pm
    For the edification of the ignorant, "man" in "human" comes from the Latin "manus", meaning "hand". i.e. A human is the creature with hands. Whence words like "manual".
    JAID
    20th Oct 2017
    4:55pm
    I am not entirely edified Dr. Still a little misty for me. I have French and at least some Latin. The 'i" in the French "main" doesn't seem to have come from the Latin "Manibus" or "Manus" though the basis of adoption could have been phonetic. The latin does have patrimony in its legal meaning, where the arm parallels the natural right to rule over another, say, a wife :-) -:0 (that will get them all going.) Norse, Germanic and Old English languages may have had the more direct influence where "mann" and the like actually meant "man"

    Additionally, it does not seem clear that "man" was linked to "Hu" to form a name for our species rather than evolve due to whatever influences from the Latin "homine" (French "homme" Spanish "Hombre" etc.) "Mankind" has a similar base in these languages.

    My guess is that this is up in the air with a real possibilty that several bases and the proximity of neighbouring meanings and sounds have had an influence on the present forms.

    In any case, no matter the Old Eng. and Lat. the Old Aus. terminology "blokes", "sheilas" etc. doesn't get us caught up in gender stuff.
    Anonymous
    21st Oct 2017
    11:42am
    Hi Jaid. What I wrote about "man", "human" and "manus" was taught to me by the Latin Department at the University of Sydney in 1984. Are they wrong? I read somewhere later that the oldest origin of these words is the Sanskrit "manas", meaning a "mind". So, man is the animal with a mind. Latin for man = homo; perhaps that accounts for the word "human"? Latin and languages are not my areas of real expertise, but are of secondary interest to me. (I'm much more engaged by music, maths, science, theology and philosophy.)
    JAID
    21st Oct 2017
    12:07pm
    I am likely more in the dark than SU Latin Dept. and yourself Dr . The above are my only sketchy bits of 'knowledge' and contemplation. The sanscrit origin for "man: sounds viable; I didn't know that. "homine" sounds close enough to an evolved "human" to my lay ear especially if there were any plasticity due to the germanic link.
    Anonymous
    22nd Oct 2017
    7:44am
    good point sunny. even our language is prejudiced against women - like most of the boys commenting on this article!
    JAID
    20th Oct 2017
    12:14pm
    These are awards. What has gender got to do with? Surely it is excellence which matters not numerical equality between constituent differences. When you prescribe an award by category, any category, you reduce its validity.

    There are plenty of examples. Take architectural awards. If there are a dozen categories the expectation is that there will be a dozen winners and there almost always are. No longer are they necessarily a matter of excellence but of the top performer among those who put their hands up. Every single awardee may be highly deserving but the categorisation instantly says that this is not about excellence.

    I have no interest in Victorian awards for perhaps anything and reckon that varying bias is always expectable but am sure that if, next year, there is a glut of outstanding females the opposite could easily occur.

    Further, if there is an award for lifetime local level community assistance then giving it to one or two would be an affront to an army of those who provide that. The expectation of your angry friend that because one sector of the community may be highly represented in the provision of kindergarten or school canteen services they should be highly represented in awards for significant service to the community makes no more sense than to say that because more redheads may do a certain course they should represent the top of a resultant profession by proportion.
    Janran
    20th Oct 2017
    12:46pm
    JAID, the decision-makers who assess the award process are probably biased because that's how people are. If the decision-makers were 100% female, I'm sure more females would get the awards. If the decision-makers were 100% male, I'm sure more males would get the awards.

    So the questions to ask are: Who were the people making the decisions? Did the recipients have to be nominated? By whom? Was it a case of blowing their own trumpet?
    Tib
    20th Oct 2017
    3:36pm
    Janran you are assuming that people make decisions based on gender the way feminist do. But most well balanced normal people would base their decisions on merit. They do this to encourage volunteering. They probably gave no thought to gender unlike yourself.
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2017
    3:38pm
    "If the decision-makers were 100% female, I'm sure more females would get the awards. If the decision-makers were 100% male, I'm sure more males would get the awards."

    That is an asinine assumption - insulting, even. Do you really think that people are incapable of putting their own gender aside and dispassionately weighing the evidence?
    JAID
    20th Oct 2017
    5:03pm
    Right Dr. a fair go isn't lost as a measure in our deliberations despite the argey-bargey that flies about.

    Just the same, it is interesting that we often select barristers by gender to match oponents where one on one aggression or abuse is claimed.
    Watto
    20th Oct 2017
    3:00pm
    Nothing new to see here. Another couple of women whinging again. and by the way your " dear and trusted friend " should have her foul mouth washed out with soap.
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2017
    3:40pm
    The fact that you know what "WTF" stands for shows that you need your foul mind washed out with soap?

    20th Oct 2017
    3:27pm
    "Why don’t senior women win awards?" Maybe because MEN do more and so deserve the awards more. Anyway, as Ted Wards says, "I would rather ... focus on what individuals do, not the gender".

    20th Oct 2017
    4:37pm
    My wife and I are both volunteers with a local organisation and the common denominator with all of the volunteers with whom we work is their humility. None that we have struck, blow their own trumpet or pick and choose what jobs they will do or won't do. They don't do it for recognition although we are thanked for our work regularly and that thanks is greatly appreciated. Reading the article makes me feel that those who complained are volunteering for the wrong reasons. It's what you give that is important, not what you get.
    Anonymous
    20th Oct 2017
    7:34pm
    is there anybody who could have given a more honest reply than that of old man, I sincere hope he and his wife will give many more years of volunteering to the community, may his reply stand out that it is not the award but it is all about the reward we get when we see the the faces light up of the people who are receiving the love and assistance so freely supplied by those volunteers, however they be more then happy if the money spend on these so called award nights, be it male or female, to be spend in assisting the volunteers to give more help to those who are in dire need, believe me, in this real world no true volunteer will put female or male ahead of one or the other.
    Tib
    20th Oct 2017
    8:26pm
    These awards have value, they help to recognise some people in the community that give their time and efforts to help those in need but more importantly they help people realise the importance of volunteering and its value to the community. It also helps promote some of the charities these people work for.
    Personally I think this argument that women didnt get enough awards is typical and disgusting. I also think the women and men who volunteer would be disgusted as well.
    Watto
    20th Oct 2017
    9:56pm
    What a strange comment DrPolymath are you abusing prescription drugs ??
    Anonymous
    21st Oct 2017
    11:45am
    Not at all. Are you? Must be, if you find my comment "strange".

    22nd Oct 2017
    7:47am
    i'd llike to see these awards designed with half going to women and half to men.

    but then in our patriarchal society, equality is unacceptable.

    just read all the comments here from the males who are terrified by the idea of equality with femails.
    Anonymous
    23rd Oct 2017
    3:02pm
    If that’s what you read from m he make commnents, then there’s something seriously wrong with your thinking
    KIAH
    22nd Oct 2017
    12:58pm
    According to ABS statistics, women constitute the majority of volunteers in community services, education, training and youth services, and health. By contrast, men dominated the composition of volunteers in sport and recreational activities and in emergency services volunteers.

    Women volunteer more commonly than men (36% compared to 32%), but among full-time workers, men were more likely to volunteer (34%) than women (33%). However, 55% of employed women worked part-time, and among these women, 47% were doing voluntary work.

    I see no credible reason for women not to receive a good 50% of the accolades.

    .
    Anonymous
    23rd Oct 2017
    2:59pm
    Not much thought went into that argument
    KIAH
    23rd Oct 2017
    3:03pm
    .
    Obviously no thought went into your one liner Foxy.
    .
    Anonymous
    23rd Oct 2017
    5:29pm
    Foxy?

    By youre reasoning - recognition should be based on participation rate and not merit (quality)

    grow a brain Kiah
    KIAH
    24th Oct 2017
    3:16pm
    "Grow a brain?" seems to me, only people who need to grow a brain themselves would say such a stupid thing RAPHAEL, since everyone is born with a brain.

    It’s how you use your brain that’s important and the way I see it, you get very little use from your brain.

    23rd Oct 2017
    6:49am
    I find this article sexist and demeaning towards the male species. Will you be happier when we no longer co-habit the planet? With in vitro technology, you don't really need (many) of us, anymore, do you? To lump all males into the Weinstein category is so offensive. Could I mention a name on the other side - Kardashian?
    JAID
    23rd Oct 2017
    8:18am
    I am not sure that Harvey Wallbanger category is all it is cracked up to be. Sure, he seems to have played his cards to his own lustful advantage (as many do) but it takes more than one to tango. Any rape aside, the me-toos did not nip this deplorable behaviour in the bud the instant it arose when their own acting future or continued high income was at stake. I hope they do not shun prostitutes.
    JAID
    23rd Oct 2017
    8:09am
    We give awards for everything. There are awards for being the slimiest used item salesperson to the most passionate artist both of whom may only have had themselves in mind when they performed their award-worthy deed.

    We don't need awards. The immediate acclaim or calls of encore a singer may receive, the appreciation and enjoyment a user of any output responds with or even the appropriate take-up of a product or idea is a natural and powerful indication of benefit.

    Awards, in refining adjudication often to those who do not even use or directly benefit by the subject are a sign of appreciation of judgement on the one hand and by nature subjective on the other. It is worth asking which structures or individuals wish to show that appreciation and to whom. The effect, intended or otherwise, is also questionable.

    An award is a way of proposing appropriate manner or behaviour. We may like that or we may regard it as an inhibition of human potential and perhaps each apply on occasion. An award advertises something; we may also like that or otherwise.

    In line with what Old Man said, accolade is unnecessary to those who are committed to a particular result.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles