Earlier this week, a Melbourne private school hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, after male students created a spreadsheet that ranked their female peers using derogatory terms such as “wifey” and “unrapeable”. The outcry was swift and fierce: two students were expelled and the school went into damage control.

As the dust settles around what must be every principal’s worst nightmare, education experts Stephanie Wescott and Steven Roberts move past the initial outrage and look at the bigger, much more disturbing picture in Australian schools.

Teachers interviewed as part of the authors’ research say they are seeing the impact of online figures such as “misogynist influencer” Andrew Tate on their students’ attitudes and behaviour. One teacher told them about a boy she taught in Year 7 who was a “wholesome, creative” child who did dance competitions. Now he writes “disturbingly misogynistic messages”.

This is all happening within a broader backlash against #metoo. As our authors note, “Teachers in our study said their students believe women have achieved unequal power over men.” They also report that responses from school leaders are not strong or urgent enough.

As Australia grapples with its shocking record on violence against women, Wescott and Roberts say our schools need to do more, and governments need to step in to help them do so. This includes a national campaign against gendered violence in schools, and guidelines about how schools should respond and what standards are expected.

Putting it simply, Wescott and Roberts conclude we need a zero-tolerance approach, and we need it now.

This is just one of the many crucial issues on which our authors use their research expertise to help everyone in society make better decisions. If you value this work, now is the time to make a tax-deductible donation. A big thank you to all those generous readers who have already given.

Judith Ireland

Education Editor

Andrew Tate’s extreme views about women are infiltrating Australian schools. We need a zero-tolerance response

Stephanie Wescott, Monash University; Steven Roberts, Monash University

Our ongoing research has found sexism, sexual harassment and misogyny are rife in Australian schools. The federal government needs to lead a national campaign against this.

Australia can have a future for the gas industry, or meet its climate commitments – but not both

Samantha Hepburn, Deakin University

Why is Australia talking about opening new gas fields as a way to reach net zero?

Grattan on Friday: Like the famous budget tree, Chalmers can change the story to suit the season

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

While the iconic ‘budget tree’ has its own narrative it’s now up to Chalmers to weave his budget story and kick some goals for the government.

Women in rich countries are having fewer kids, or none at all. What’s going on?

Leah Ruppanner, The University of Melbourne

A declining population can have big implications for society down the track. To make parenting easier, governments need to take a more nuanced approach.

Hind’s Hall is Macklemore’s bold new pro-Palestine anthem. What might it actually achieve?

Catherine Strong, RMIT University; Tami Gadir, RMIT University

A number of celebrities have made it clear they won’t ‘pick a side’ in relation to the war on Gaza. Macklemore clearly isn’t worried about that.

Technically accomplished, sonically subversive and fiercely independent, I’ll remember Steve Albini for his rare humility

Samantha Bennett, Australian National University

I knew Steve Albini, who has died at just 61, as a kind, patient and accommodating engineer, committed to the truest possible representation of live sound.

AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine withdrawn – right to the end it was the victim of misinformation

Michael Head, University of Southampton

AstraZeneca withdrawing it COVID vaccine from the market has nothing to do with blood clots.

We looked at over 166,000 psychiatric records. Over half showed people were admitted against their will

Amy Corderoy, UNSW Sydney

Australians are more likely to receive treatment against their will if they are born overseas, speak a language other than English or are unemployed.

Friday essay: our culture sees women’s bodies as faulty machines, but there are other birthing possibilities

Holly High, Deakin University

People rarely speak plainly of birth, and even more rarely spell out the details in positive terms.

Yes, spending on health is growing, but new research shows we’re getting more for it

John Goss, University of Canberra

Healthcare productivity appears to be growing three times faster than economy-wide productivity.

Feral horses in Australia’s high country are damaging peatlands, decreasing carbon stores

Sarah Treby, RMIT University; Samantha Grover, RMIT University

When it comes to storing carbon, alpine peatlands are powerhouses. But feral horse grazing and trampling tips the carbon balance in the other direction. We need to protect and restore our peatlands.

No more bad accents, stereotypes or cringe: why the rise of multilingual TV is good news for everyone

César Albarrán-Torres, Swinburne University of Technology

Thanks to streaming, multilingual film and TV is exploding, and it’s helping to enhance the viewer experience.

Politics + Society

Health + Medicine

  • Not all ultra-processed foods are bad for your health, whatever you might have heard

    Gary Sacks, Deakin University; Kathryn Backholer, Deakin University; Kathryn Bradbury, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau; Sally Mackay, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau

    The mass-produced wholegrain bread you buy from the supermarket isn’t harmful to your health, even though it’s an ‘ultra-processed’ food. Your overall diet matters more.

Science + Technology

  • Should we fight climate change by re-engineering life itself?

    Jonathan Symons, Macquarie University; Jacqueline Dalziell, University of Sydney; Thom Dixon, Macquarie University

    Organisms that produce synthetic fuel and suck carbon out of the air are just some of the possibilities of ‘engineering biology’ – if policymakers can shepherd the industry towards success.

Environment + Energy

Books + Ideas

Business + Economy


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