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Journal Articles


This article was selected for a special, World Bank sponsored edition of Feminist Economics on “Voice and Agency”. The article presents the results of an empirical study of the links between women’s representation in parliament and constitutional protection from gender-based discrimination. The results underscore the role of constitutional design in promoting women’s agency.

This paper reports the results of an investigation, undertaken as part of the Missing Workers project, into the relationship between work ability, increased age and turnover intentions in the aged care workforce. The paper’s findings highlight that, compared to European nurses, Australian aged care workers have relatively high levels of work ability. However, work ability declines with age, especially amongst registered nurses, and it is a key source of turnover for community care workers and personal care assistants.

This key paper from the Missing Workers project explores Adam Smith’s concept of recognition and considers the importance of recognition and misrecognition for a nuanced understanding of the motivation to undertake paid care work. Survey and interview data presented in the paper suggest that low wages convey misrecognition and that both wages and misrecognition have adverse implications for the future labour supply of aged care workers.

We examine the relationship between women’s representation on corporate boards and fraud. Drawing on a discussion of existing studies, we hypothesise that increasing women’s representation on boards can help mitigate fraud. We provide validation to our conjecture through an empirical analysis of 128 publicly listed companies in Australia. We show that the increase in women’s representation on company boards is associated with a decreased probability of fraud. We demonstrate the consistency of this result across different robustness checks. We believe that our findings could be of interest to policy makers interested in enhancing board governance and monitoring.

Many aspects of our ageing society are deeply gendered. The number of older women is substantially larger than the number of older men. Women are also more likely than men to live the latter part of their life without a spouse. Relatedly, they are more likely than men to be involved in caring for other ill or disabled older family members. This article examines how the combination of gender differences in life expectancy, marriage, care roles, workforce participation and current policy settings combine to produce gender inequality in old age. It identifies policy measures to redress this imbalance.


This article was an invited contribution to a special edition of the ATF to celebrate the anniversary of Australia’s Income Tax Assessment Act. The paper presents the arguments for a gender impact analysis of taxation, using the example of superannuation to demonstrate the inequity and inefficiency that emerges when gender impacts are not considered and countered.

This is paper explores contrasting economic analyses of gender and wages presented at the Australian equal remuneration hearings, which Siobhan participated in as an expert witness. It incorporates a discussion of the use mathematical methods and specialist techniques in economic analysis and argues that these can deflect attention from important assumptions and ideological commitments underlying economic analyses of gendered patterns of work and pay. Debate in the public sphere is identified as offering the potential to explain and discuss the methods and assumptions of economic analysis, and to better understand their social and policy implications.

A further output from the Missing Workers’ project, this paper examines the links between informal care roles and the turnover intention of mature age women in Australia’s aged care sector. The paper identifies important differences in the links between informal care roles and turnover intentions between women according to their economic circumstance. Women living in households with relatively low economic resources reduce their turnover intention when their informal care roles increase, reflecting the financial pressures associated with these roles and highlighting the importance of measures to enable women to maintain their paid work roles in the presence of other commitments.

Women lag behind men in many domains. Feminist scholars have proposed that sex-based grammatical systems in languages reinforce traditional conceptions of gender roles, which in turn contribute to disadvantaging women. This article evaluates the empirical plausibility of this claim in the context of women’s labour market outcomes. Based on a sample of over 100 countries, the analysis shows that places where the majority language is gender-intensive have lower participation of women in the labour force. Individual-level estimates further underscore this finding and indicate a higher prevalence of gender-discriminatory attitudes among speakers of gender-intensive languages.

Book Chapters


Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics

Therese Jefferson, Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp, Rachel Ong, Valerie Adams and Gill Lewin, 2016 “A mixed methods approach to investigating the employment decisions of aged care workers in Australia”, in Lee, F. and Cronin, B., Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham

This chapter describes the development and implementation of a mixed methods research project that was designed to investigate the characteristics and experience of women aged 45 and over working in the Australian aged care sector. The key issue of interest is whether these workers planned to remain in or leave employment in the sector. This study utilises an embedded mixed methods framework of enquiry, utilising secondary data from a large national survey, organisational employment data, purposefully collected survey data and semi structured interview data collection and analysis. This framework captures the potential of quantitative data to identify national patterns of mature age women’s employment, the employment decisions made by aged care workers at an organisational level and patterns of employment exit and retention by aged care workers at an industry level. Individual qualitative data provides insights into the experiences of the aged care workers within specific institutional contexts.

The Sandwich Generation

Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp, Therese Jefferson and Rachel Ong, 2017, “Missing mature women in Australia’s aged care sector”, in Burke, R. and Calvano, L., The Sandwich Generation: Caring for Oneself and Others at Home and at Work, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham

Rising life expectancy has led to the growth of the ‘Sandwich Generation’ – men and women who are caregivers to their children of varying ages as well as for one or both parents whilst still managing their own household and work responsibilities. This book considers both the strains and benefits of this position.


WiSER Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Economic Security for Women in Retirement

Senate Standing Committees on Economics 2015 ‘Achieving economic security for women in retirement’, Canberra

WiSER submission to the Senate Inquiry into Economic Security for Women in Retirement




Work, Care & Family Policies - Election Benchmarks 2016

The Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Work, Care & Family Policies – Election Benchmarks 2016, The Women + Work Research Group, Sydney






A Gender Lens - Budget 2016-17

National Foundation for Australian Women 2016, A Gender Lens – Budget 2016-17Canberra






Work + Family submission 2017

The Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Submission to the Inquiry by the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee into gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women’s economic equality




A Gender Lens - Budget 2017-18

National Foundation for Australian Women 2017, A Gender Lens – Budget 2017-18Canberra