AS THE nation celebrated the first female jockey winning the Melbourne Cup in its 150-plus year history, Unions NSW started asking why it took so long.
Assistant secretary Emma Maiden said "shoddy parental leave entitlements" made it vastly more difficult for women such as Michelle Payne than men to excel in the industry.
"The Federal Government's paid parental leave work test requires an employee to have worked at least 10 out of the 13 months prior to their birth of their child," she said.
"Meanwhile occupational health and safety requirements restrict female jockeys from riding after their first trimester.
"As being a jockey is an extremely specialised profession, industry assistance is limited in its ability to find alternative work for pregnant jockeys and many are left either delaying having children, forgoing paid parental leave or simply leaving the industry."
Ms Maiden said 96% of female jockeys were younger than 40 and required more flexible work arrangements than other industries.
She said Ms Payne was right to observe during her post-win interview that racing remained a "chauvinistic" industry.
"Female jockeys are only a fairly recent introduction to the world of racing," Ms Maiden said
"Female riders make up about 21% of jockeys which has grown significantly over the last 10-15 years from almost zero.
"The distinct lack of female jockeys both in the industry and in the Melbourne Cup reflects the institutional failures of the racing industry to address the broader obstacles that continue to prevent women's broader participation in the sport."
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