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Keeping Australia Alive with Unconscious Bias

A recent blog in Inside Out discussed the ABC series “Keeping Australia Alive” and its disappointment at the misrepresentation of women within the health profession in Australia.

The authors of the blog, having watched episode 1, discovered that hardly any women (14%) were interviewed on camera. This led Homer and Scarf to the decision that they would watch all the subsequent episodes and examine the gender and discipline mixes. Their findings were interesting: for the series overall, only 23% of the health professionals interviewed to camera and given a by-line were women and only 18% were nurses and midwives. Their analysis went on to describe each episode in more detail, looking at the breakdown of nurses and midwives who were interviewed, who make up the majority of the health workforce and are mainly women.

Linking into our previous blog on unconscious bias, the authors of this article speculated that the editing of this program didn’t intentionally leave out female representatives but that the unconscious bias that surrounds women in the workforce was at play. They quoted the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) figures that 76% of the health workforce are women but that this was far from being represented on the ABC’s program.

The article highlighted that Australia still seems to have a long way to go in representing gender equity. In the 21st century, the media plays an incredible role in influencing all types of readers and users. The Australian media should perhaps look at how they represent women in the Australian workforce so that shifting the unconscious bias can be a reality.

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