This is reflected in the occupational and family structure and composition. Australia recorded a significant shift from traditional industries, such as agriculture. In 1911 farming comprised 13.5% of the Australian workforce, by 1947 this had increased slightly to 13.7% but in 1991 had dropped significantly to just 3.2%. An endeavor that took pride of place under the Protestant ethic has now given away to the creation of new occupational categories and new attitudes towards female participation in paid labor. Clerical sales and service positions have undergone significant growth; an estimated 53.1% of these positions are now occupied by women (van Krieken et al, 2000: 41).
To a certain extent, this indicates that Australian working life is adapting to the demands of the labor market by creating new sectors that facilitate the integration of women into the workplace in order to satisfy supply and demand needs. Industrial relations reform has also facilitated major change in the working life of average Australians. The overall labor force participation rate in 2000 was up by 3.1% on 1985 figures, the female participation rate had increased to 9.2% over the same period, and the male participation rate had decreased by 3.2%.
Whilst it is true that women now comprise a large contingent of the Australian work force it would be misleading to suggest that this is in equal proportion to males in either the economic or private sphere. For, Women along with indigenous, ethnic, aging and young Australians consistently occupy lower status and lower paid positions than their male anglo counterparts and as a result are over-represented in the working class. This pattern of inequality continues into domesticity.
Attitude changes, legislative changes and increased female participation in the work force have resulted in only a minimal breakdown of household sexual division of labor. Around 20% of men are now responsible for household duties but even when a woman is in full or part-time work she is still responsible for the majority of domestic duties.
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