Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins to tackle sexism in sport

When Kate Jenkins joined the board of Carlton, one Blues fan remarked the footy club had “hit rock bottom”.

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Three days into her new job as Australian sex discrimination commissioner Ms Jenkins says she sees sport as a powerful setting to advance gender equality issues.

“I have to confess, not every Blues supporter cares about gender equality in sport,” she told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

She recounted the online comment from a man named Gary who was less than impressed with her appointment to the board.

“Let me tell you, Gary, you’ve got it all wrong, on every level,” Ms Jenkins said.

Universities are another venue Ms Jenkins plans to focus on as commissioner.

On-campus gender discrimination and sexism will be put under the microscope with a project that has the support of 39 vice chancellors, she said.

“It should be of grave concern to us all to know that it is our youth who are learning to accept and excuse violent attitudes to women and girls,” she said.

“We need to intervene now so this is not a problem we pass on to the next generation.”

She noted that students at the University of Queensland recently sold cupcakes on campus at prices that reflected the 17.3 per cent pay gap between women and men based on average full-time ordinary weekly earnings.

“Much to their shock, and in fact the university’s shock … instead of giving rise to a genuine discussion about wage inequality, the organisers of this inoffensive campaign … received rape threats and even death threats,” Ms Jenkins said.

Her personal measure of success as commissioner will be when the pay gap disappears and students at the University of Queensland can sell cupcakes at lunchtime at the same price for everyone.