BA (Hons), PhD (UQ); FASSA
Political science

Gillian Whitehouse’s research on gender equality over more than two decades has advanced academic discourse and shaped public policy on social issues of critical importance for Australia. Her cross-nationally comparative research in the 1990s was among the first to identify the indirect benefits of wage-setting centralisation and regulatory coverage for gender pay equality, and to highlight the critical importance of scope of comparison for the efficacy of redress mechanisms.

Her evidence to NSW (1998) and Queensland (2001) Pay Equity Inquiries informed the subsequent development of innovative equal remuneration strategies in these jurisdictions. In Queensland, for example, a draft principle submitted by Rosemary Hunter, Gillian Whitehouse and Di Zetlin shaped the development of the 2002 Queensland Industrial Relations Commission Equal Remuneration Principle, which remains recognised as the most progressive to date in Australia. Whitehouse’s contribution as an expert witness to subsequent equal remuneration cases assisted in decisions that delivered considerable gains for women in historically undervalued occupations, and her analysis of the relative merits of this approach to undervaluation has advanced understanding of the most constructive ways to address gender pay inequality.

More recently, her role as academic expert on the 2015 Queensland Industrial Relations Legislative Reform Reference Group led to further strengthening of provisions for redressing gender-based undervaluation, as well as extended entitlements to flexible arrangements and the introduction of paid domestic and family violence leave. The Reference Group’s report presented 68 recommendations to the Queensland Government, all of which were incorporated into legislation in 2016.

The impact of Whitehouse’s research is also evident in the area of parental leave, both in terms of providing evidence for policy and advancing understanding of the potentially perverse implications for gender equality of parental leave uptake. The 2005 Parental Leave in Australia Survey, conducted by Gillian Whitehouse, Marian Baird and Chris Diamond, filled critical gaps in the available statistics on parental leave availability and uptake in Australia. Data from the survey were used by the Productivity Commission in its 2008 Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave, providing important information for policy development. Following the 2010 Paid Parental Leave Act, Whitehouse was a key member of the consortium engaged by the Australian Government to evaluate the new scheme: this team conducted six major surveys and six sets of in-depth interviews over four years, and produced four reports to government.

Data collected in these and related projects continue to inform Australian research into policy efficacy and gender equality in employment. Whitehouse’s ongoing analyses of the factors that encourage a more gender-egalitarian sharing of parental leave entitlements, and the impact on mothers’ career trajectories of part-time return to work patterns, form part of the multi-faceted social science research agenda needed to identify the most effective ways to further erode gender inequalities.


Australian Political Studies Association

International Association of Feminist Economics

The Australian Sociological Association

Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand

  1. Whitehouse, G 2017, ‘A cross-national comparison of gender gaps’. In D Peetz & G Murray (eds), Women, Labor Segmentation and Regulation: Varieties of Gender Gaps. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp97-116.
  2. Whitehouse, G & Xiang, N 2017, ‘Mothers’ Return to Work’, in Hewitt, B., Baird, M., Baxter, J., Brady, M., Coles, L., Strazdins, L., Whitehouse, G., Xiang, N., Yerkes, M. (eds) Millennium Mums Report, Wave 1-5, 81pp, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland (pp4-21).
  3. Whitehouse, G, Romaniuk, H, Lucas, N and Nicholson, J 2013, ‘Leave duration after childbirth: impacts on maternal mental health, parenting and couple relationships in Australian two-parent families’, Journal of Family Issues 34, 10: 1356-1378.
  4. Connolly, J, Rooney, T and Whitehouse, G 2012, ‘Tracking pay equity: the impact of regulatory change on the dissemination and sustainability of equal remuneration decisions’, Journal of Industrial Relations, 54, 2: 10-26
  5. Hosking, A, Whitehouse G and Baxter J 2010, ‘Duration of Leave and Resident Fathers’ Involvement in Infant Care in Australia’ Journal of Marriage and Family, 72: 1301-1316.