Ethnicity- Indigenous Australians
It is suggested that Australia, especially higher education (university) is ‘meritocratic’. Australians have been perceived to enjoy the idea that rewards should be focused on the origin on effort and ability. This is however not the reality as Australia, just like other non-meritocratic societies focus their rewards to people who are already privileged. The study will argue that Australia especially higher education is not meritocratic. The study will also discuss theories and academic research that seeks to explain this pattern. The study will apply statistics from gender and university enrollment to challenge the statement.
Meritocracy is inexistent in the educational sector in Australia due to the equity policy applied in the tertiary education (Smith 2014, p. 3). The policy has brought the difference between higher education and vocational education and other training sectors guided by other policies. Equity policy acts as a balance mechanism for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in vocational educational trainings to higher education. Through the policy, pathways have been created guiding students from the colleges to higher levels of education without discrimination. This policy arose as a solution to the variation of population of students from challenged backgrounds in vocational training and in higher education. It is estimated that vocational education training centers (VET) have approximately 60% of these students whereas higher education has lower than 10%. These policies besides form a balance between the lower-level VET qualifications and the under-represented higher-level qualifications (Charlesworth, Campbell, Probert 2002, p. 7). Such as diplomas and advanced diplomas. Diplomas are essential in the academic qualification of such students as it forms the basic entry requirement for enrollment to higher education. Instead of separating VET and higher education equity policies, and sectored policies, diploma is used as the main qualification for entry for both VET and higher education.
Pathways in the equity policies in higher education act as mechanisms to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds right of entry to higher levels of learning (Smith 2014, p. 4). Therefore, it is necessary for all education stakeholders to regard equity from a perspective of the tertiary education, since diploma remains the main qualification for pathways and equity policy. These pathways should not be taken for granted by policy makers as they offer a second chance to disadvantaged students to gain entry to higher education and socially, economically, and culturally benefit. It is necessary for the education stakeholders to find possible ways of increasing these pathways from VET to higher education instead of criticizing the mechanism.
Support of the pathways in the academic sectors has been supported even with the population advocating of meritocracy in the country. Among them has been the liberal and social reproduction theorists who have agree that the major objective of education in the nation is to act as a social mechanism for social selection. Liberal theorists have also supported these pathways affirming that they advocate for social unity within a meritocratic region. These pathways are however, mechanisms employed in solving any tension that may arise due to meritocratic discourses and principles of social justice. In reality, the education sector was established to uphold meritocracy by opening more opportunities to the educated and denied chances to the less privileged in the society. This goal has however not been met as students from disadvantaged backgrounds have obtained position in higher education. The second chance given to students will enable the society to overcome social disadvantage and make sure that the education structure is fair.
Other news in the nation amid other developed nations states that gender inequality as a form of meritocracy is worsening in the employment sector (Fox & Broussine 2001, p. 3). However, this remains untrue as the Australian Federal Parliament documents increasing number of women in central leadership positions. Internationally, unprecedented numbers of women lead nations with US having a higher probability of electing a woman president in the coming elections (Piterman 2008, p. 2). This evidence is indisputable over the talent and ability women posses in relation to leadership and masculine positions. Their contributions are widely acknowledged and appreciated in the political and social arenas. With the associated celebrations over the women’s ability, the corporate world continues to miss this great potential in women leadership and other contributions. Statistics show a positive skew of the proportion of women in leading Australian positions over the last decade.
Over the years, prevailing leadership culture had prevented women from assuming corporate leadership (Sinclair 2004, p. 12). The culture held that men assumed better leadership positions due to masculine abilities like the ego. The culture assumes that men are better at handling stress that is mostly accompanied by top positions unlike women. This culture has greatly been disputed by the rising women in top managerial positions. Women in the past have had roles of being homemakers and executives. With the developments, some women postpone their personal desires foe career success. This among other factors has enabled women to overcome gender stereotypes and sexual tensions in most managerial teams.
A study was conducted on the cultural dilemmas as another form of meritocracy. It was realized that women face several cultural dilemmas as they strive to remain successful (Charlesworth, Campbell & Probert 2002, p. 11). Generally, business environment is dominated by a limiting female archetype, which positions women in a cultural dilemma. Limited number of women has managed to navigate the organizational life as they overcome the intense scrutiny that exceeds performance. Unlike men, women are judged by their appearance and communication styles, which often lead to marginalization from leadership positions. Equally, talented women have been sidelined from leadership positions due to the outlook of unhealthy cultural fit. Various women have risen to alter to the dynamics of the cultural environments and internalized their part in the cultural fit. Due to the relentless scrutiny of women in the past, majority of them were psychologically burnt out and exited organizations leading to loss of women talent pool. These effects of meritocracy heavily affected women in leadership positions in the past.
Despite the challenges women have had in leadership positions, meritocracy has not prevailed as successful women have navigated the domains of corporate culture. Through compliance and patronage, women have risen against cultural resistance that excluded female presence in leadership. Women have so far exhibited command of respect from the colleagues and acquired different perspectives from that had been previously acknowledged. From the study, lifestyles of women have been seen to change considerably since the twentieth century. Most women in leadership have no children and are single by choice. These changes have minimized prevailing meritocracy as the peak years of childbearing in women are the peaks years in the career developments.
Modifications in the women’s role in leadership have resulted to modification in gender roles, family structures and work outlines (Chesterman, Ross-Smith & Peters 2005, p. 1). Previously, there was a distinct variation in the division of labor between for both genders in the society. Men assumed the principal position of being the breadwinners while women interacted more with family life. Women in career back then experienced challenges in balancing between work and family. Moreover, men were perceived as better workers and hence acquired more pay than their women counterparts in similar job positions acquired acquire. This led to financial challenges amid other obstacles among the professional women. Present developments have made traditional men to break from the culture and offer equal avenues to the female gender to expand career wise.
Politically, the government has attempted to ensure that social and economic landscape is balanced between the males and the females (Piterman 2008, p. 6). This is experienced in the extensive modernization of the employment standards through legislative directives and employment contracts. Since work and family participation, models alter as people traverse in different cycles of life, it is necessary for the employers to take note and assist their workers in all possible ways. The government acknowledges these changes and included the legislation of provision of maternity and paternity leave and other employee requirements to allow parents obtain flexible hours where they can nurture their young ones. Australia, unlike other countries that exercise meritocracy, has increased number of workers who can access work entitlements like paid leave. Another growing trend to prove that Australia is not a meritocratic country is on the improved developments of family and friendly environments in departments such as banking and in finance.
In the business sector, there is a growing development of appreciation of women in business. Business climate in the country is more conducive for women in the business department than it was in the past. Previously, like other developed nations, masculine authority was perceived as better in terms of aggression, rationality and dominance (Piterman 2008, p. 7). These changes in business climate are attributed by the acknowledgement of the heterogonous force and pressure to participate in key performance indicators. Family friendly policies are clearly exhibited in the sector, which is seeing more women and female authority than in the past.
Meritocracy is a social system where power is channeled towards those with greater intellects. The system holds the belief that people in authority ought to be chosen for their superior capabilities than because if their wealth of birth. Meritocratic has been experienced in various sectors in the public domain such as in high academic institutions and in corporate leadership where males have been assumed as better leaders. Analysis of these sectors proves that meritocracy is not a meritocratic society. Meritocracy is inexistent in the educational sector in Australia due to the equity policy applied in the tertiary education. The policy has brought the difference between higher education and vocational education and other training sectors guided by other policies. Various women have risen to adjust to the dynamics of the cultural environments and internalized their role in the cultural fit. Business climate in the country is more conducive for women in the business department than it was in the past. Meritocracy is therefore not a portion of the country as family friendly policies are clearly exhibited in the sector.
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