Published by the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, University of Canberra

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Name: Chris Wallace
Job Title: Associate Professor
University / Research Institute: 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, University of Canberra

 

1. What are you researching and why does it matter to you?  

My research concerns the use of behavioural economics-based digital strategies to help achieve gender equity in the workplace. It matters to me because I hate injustice and oppression. Wealth and power inequities created and reinforced by the distribution of labour at work and at home keep women down. Achieving gender equity in the paid work sphere is key to improving the material base and therefore the logics of women’s lives. My research is designed not just to understand the persistent sources of women’s workplace disadvantage better but to actually change them. 

2. What has been your biggest and most frustrating challenge to date? 

General lack of awareness of the ‘knowing-doing’ gap is a bit frustrating. So much is known but too little of it is harnessed to strategies and actions to do what’s necessary with that knowledge to reap its benefits. When something effective is done, the forces for reversion to a new form of the previous status quo are vastly underestimated. People get puzzled, and sometimes angry, that their insights and initiatives don’t stick, and that they then have to regroup and address the ‘knowing-doing’ gap all over again. This endless process is called politics. It might involve personal politics, organisational politics, parliamentary politics or, as in the case of gender inequities, all three. Knowledge positioned within a clear understanding of power is critical to getting things done and keeping them done. 

3. Share the dream! What impact do you hope your research will have on the lives of women down the track?  

Change is lumpy, not smooth. It is historically specific. This precise moment provides the opportunity to combine digital strategies and insights from behavioural economics with systems thinking to bump gender equity in the workplace up to the next level and, hopefully, achieve it. If employers can be conditioned in a sustained way to ensure fair shares by default in the paid work sphere, gender equity overall will be easier to achieve. That’s a dream worth making a reality. 

 

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