It is a perfect storm. The 2 reports that have consumed and angered us this week can be conflated into one nasty and uncomfortable reality… in Australia there exists an acceptance of pervasive misogyny and toxic masculinity. We have on the one hand, a distinct lack of empathy from our political leaders and on the other, reports of private school boys degrading and denigrating women.
And as we shake our heads and wonder how did it come to this, we don’t need to look further than the relationship between our elite education system and the current members of our ruling elite… the federal cabinet.
Of the 22 members of cabinet, 16 are men. Of those men, 8 (50%) attended private boys or GPS schools.
When we separate children by gender from the age of 5, the boys enter hyper-masculine communities that openly encourage loyalty to the group and the submission of self. We should not be surprised then, when they express their group values by showing scant respect or empathy towards outsiders (in this case women), and even “others” within the institution (as exposed in reports this week of the toxic culture and its effects on women in our parliament).
We need to look deeply into ourselves and question whether our education system, with its disproportionate number of single sex schools, is best -fit to meet the future needs and challenges of building a diverse and inclusive Australia.