01 Oct, 2014 Last updated: 30 Mar, 2015

By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

Opinion piece first published in the Bendigo Advertiser newspaper on 1 October 2014.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter

A survey of Australians released today (1 October) by Plan International Australia shows that, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go to address sexism in Australia.

That three in four young Australian women and girls have been subjected to sexist comments and 28% said they often heard a politician, sportsperson or public figure make a sexist remark is deeply concerning.

When men feel it is ok to behave disrespectfully, and sexist attitudes against women are common, we create a culture of support for violence against women. One in two young women said sexism has affected their career path and one third said it would be easier to get their dream job if they were male.

Sadly, none of this is surprising.  VicHealth's National Community Attitudes to Violence against Women Survey, released recently, showed that more than a quarter of Australians believe that men make better political leaders and more than one in ten said that when jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women.

Sexist and violent behaviour is learned and it can be unlearned. If we want to change attitudes and create a culture where young women and girls thrive academically and professionally, we need to reject an Australia where sexist behaviour is ignored or trivialised.

- Jerril