Barriers to women in senior leadership: how unconscious bias is holding back Australia's economy. By: Evans, Kathryn J; Maley, Jane F. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources. Apr2021, Vol. 59 Issue 2, p204-226. 23p.

This research examines the reasons that Australian corporations are not doing more to progress gender balance in senior leadership, given the wealth of evidence about the economic benefits. It draws on the findings of a qualitative study of the perceptions of 15 women in key senior positions, which highlight that despite Australian Workplace Gender Equality legislation, unconscious bias remains a significant obstacle to women reaching top leadership positions. The findings provide insight into the regimes that support the enduring gender order in contemporary Australian business and reinforce men’s continued dominance in its organisational hierarchies. Building on the successes of the Australian public sector, the researchers propose a National Strategic Action Plan for Gender Equality to address the current inequities in four key policy areas with the most compelling economic case: women in politics, women’s leadership in organisations, reducing the gender pay gap, and labour market participation. Key points: This paper examines the barriers to senior leadership in Australian companies.Knowledge of the benefits of gender balance in leadership conflicts with business policy and practice.The biggest obstacle is unconscious bias due to role incongruity, maternal wall and boys’ club.Intervention will be necessary to achieve satisfactory and widespread change for Australia’s economic success.Implementing a National Strategic Action Plan for Gender Equality is key to transforming Australia’s future.