Men's group opposes hiring women
By Nikki Ulasowski
HOBART — A Tasmanian men's rights group has sought to prevent a public bus operator from instituting affirmative action measures to hire more female staff.
With only 19% of its work force of 330 bus drivers women, public bus operator Metro is planning a recruitment drive to increase the proportion to 50%. Metro hopes the move will help arrest the decline in passenger numbers (4% in the past year).
Arguing that women drivers are more understanding towards children and the elderly (80% of passengers), Metro sought an exemption from the Sex Discrimination Act to enable it to advertise specifically for women bus drivers. The exemption was granted on the basis of providing equal opportunity for women to become bus drivers, and because of the "special needs" of passengers.
The men's rights group MATE (Men Acting Towards Equality) has challenged the exemption, which it has labelled "discriminatory against men", and claimed that Metro want to employ only women drivers, taking the jobs of "unemployed family men".
International Women's Day collective member Kamala Emanuel told Green Left Weekly that she defended the advertisements, which will facilitate women's equal access to what is still a male-dominated industry. But she rejected any suggestion that women were innately more understanding towards children and the elderly than men, labelling such an argument an obstacle to women's equality.