Who is she?
Susan Ryan has been Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner since 2011, but before that she was a Minister in the Hawke Labor Government, including as the inaugural Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women.
Susan initiated the Bill that became the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 – the law that made it illegal in Australia for employers to refuse jobs to women based on their gender. Today it protects women against discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy, or to dismiss you from a job because of your family responsibilities. It also protects you from sexual harassment in the workplace.
She was also crucial to the introduction of the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986, which required some employers to implement affirmative action policies.
Why should we thank her?
We can’t imagine a time when jobs were advertised for women only, or men only. Or that women were flat-out refused a job because they were a woman. But it wasn’t all that long ago.
Susan played a crucial role in the laws that protect us every day and enable women to be at least on a legal level playing field in the workforce (the reality is still a different matter, unfortunately). What a legend.