Do your unconscious gender biases get in the way of decision-making?

Gender equality in the tax profession has received a lot of attention lately. And rightly so. The percentage of women practising in tax increases each year, and more women aspire to be emerging thought leaders.

However, whilst many men and women advocate for women in the profession, why are there still so few women in leadership positions? The answer might lie in the fact that we all practise something called the unconscious gender bias.

Unconscious gender biases are the unwitting, implicit associations of men and women that we harbour in our subconscious minds that affect our everyday actions and decision-making. For example, when ‘Partner at a big firm’ is mentioned, do you picture a male or female leader? Your answer depends on your unconscious gender bias and becomes problematic when it negatively affects your ability to be inclusive and supportive of female leaders in the workplace.

“Current measures aimed at addressing gender bias in the tax and transfer system are arguably not working”, says Kerrie Sadiq CTA, a Professor of Taxation in the School of Accountancy at the QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology.

Kerrie will present in November at The Tax Institute’s Women in Tax National Congress, which will showcase speakers from tax, business, government and beyond addressing the hidden barriers that women face at work.

When we asked Kerrie why she wanted to present at the Women in Tax National Congress, she said that awareness can contribute to gender equality in the profession.

“A gender balance reflects stakeholder representation where a healthy debate can lead to better policy decisions. Awareness of the issues is an essential part of this process,” she said.

“Is it time to rethink the approach to tax policy design by addressing the input side to tax reform by ensuring diversity in the decision-making process and policy choices?

“What difference would it make if women had equal representation in this process? While tax policy is clearly about choices in relation to what taxes to levy, on whom and in what amounts, how different would those decisions be with greater female representation in the decision-making process?”

Kerrie’s session will challenge you to consider your own conscious and unconscious gender biases in relation to tax, in the hope that more female leaders will emerge in the future.

The Women in Tax National Congress will take place on Wednesday, 22 November 2017 at the Pier One Sydney Harbour Autograph Collection Marriott Hotel.

This event has now sold out, however we are pleased to offer a live stream option for those who missed out. You can find out more on our website.


Kerrie Sadiq is a Professor of Taxation in the School of Accountancy at the QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (B Com) from The University of Queensland, a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (LLB Hons) from The University of Queensland, a Master of Laws (LLM) from Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from Deakin University.

Kerrie is a Chartered Tax Adviser as designated by The Tax Institute and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Kerrie primarily researches in international tax, tax expenditures and capital gains tax. She is author of numerous publications in both Australian and International journals and edited books and is a co-author of taxation texts. She is a co-editor of Australian Tax Review, one of Australia’s leading tax journals. Kerrie is often cited in the media in relation to international tax issues and regularly receives invitations to speak on contemporary tax topics.

Prior to joining Queensland University of Technology, Kerrie spent 20 years at The University of Queensland, as a member of both their Law School and Business School.

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