The progress for gender equality in the workplace has been a long struggle for female employees, and while the fight is far from over, some changes have been made for the better. All over the world, companies and governments are acknowledging that opportunities have to be offered to people based on their capabilities, not their gender. These changes have massive implications for students today, who will enter a working environment where their value is determined more by what they make of themselves and not by their gender identity.
The Issue Of Wages and Employment
Photo credit to jsoto from Pixabay
Women employees is a relatively modern concept. If you’re shocked by the fact that there was a time when the concept of a working woman is taboo, it just goes to show how far we’ve progressed in the pursuit of gender equality. According to statistics from the official site of the Canadian government, the number of Canadian women in paid jobs has doubled since the late 1970s. While women are still less likely to be employed than men, the gap narrows for women who have attained a higher education.
More recently, the wage gap between men and women took the spotlight. From Hollywood actresses to female software company employees, more and more women are speaking up about the difference between how much they earn compared to their male counterparts. The wage gap is still there, and according to The Guardian, it won’t close for another 70 years at the rate we’re going. However, in the tech industry, the wage gap seems to be closing. Tech giants Facebook and Microsoft have ensured that male and female employees earn based on their positions and contributions, and not their genders.
The issue of the wage gap varies from country to country, and it becomes even more important for students these days to learn more about their employment by pursuing a global perspective afforded by a study abroad program.
More Female Bosses
Given the situation of gender inequality in regular employment, you can just imagine how lopsided the genders are in senior management. However, there’s been a lot of improvement from just a handful of decades ago, especially in the education and healthcare fields.
There are numerous challenges blocking more diverse and unbiased senior management, mainly because the men who make up the majority may be resistant to change. It also falls on women to overcome the hurdles that have been built up by years of being repressed. Indra Nooyi, CEO of food and beverage giant Pepsi, stated that she finds inspiration from a sense of rebelliousness and her drive to break out of the conservative mold as a child. A lot of women might not even consider pursuing a career in senior management because of their own preconceptions, so a global education is a huge help in challenging perceptions. Getting exposed to how other cultures handle gender imbalance can provide the necessary push.
Women In Politics
For women to have a more level playing field in the business sector, they have to be represented in the government. After all, the laws that will put cracks in the glass ceiling could only be drafted, approved, and enforced at a governmental level.
Women have made leaps and bounds in terms of representation in the government over the last couple of decades. According to UN Women, the percentage of female parliamentarians have doubled in the last 20 years. Unfortunately, that still only adds up to a mere 22%. Progress needs to speed up! For students who wish to pursue a career in public service, one of the benefits of studying abroad is forming diplomatic ties. Actually experiencing life in other places can only provide aspiring politicians with the perspective needed to be effective at championing gender equality not just in their home country’s work setting, but everywhere.
Representation In The Media
Photo credit to Lwp Kommunikáció from Flickr
Women have become more and more vocal over the rampant injustice that they experience, and are battling centuries worth of shame and repression. Public personalities have made statements against ageism, fat shaming, objectification, and other forms of discrimination that plague women, and these issues radiate outward to the working environment.
However, there’s still a huge gap between men and women who are movers and shakers in media. To illustrate, it was only a few years ago that Tamron Hall, a black woman, co-anchored the iconic Today show. Female film or journalism students have a lot to gain from an overseas education program. Not only would doing so provide a robust experience for broadening horizons, students also have much to gain in terms of networking with media influencers worldwide.
Fighting For Paid Period Leaves
That women have to endure a lot of biological processes that men don’t even need to bother with is a great injustice. According to an article from the Independent, a community interest firm called Coexist has implemented a “period policy” that addresses how menstrual pains can affect a worker’s performance.
These biological realities are unavoidable, and have a very real impact on women who are mostly not given any leeway by their work structures. It has been argued that allowing women to take menstruation leaves is sexist or discriminatory, as men will be pushed to compensate for the time lost. This has been met with rebuttals about the unavoidable nature of menstrual cramps, which makes them a medical necessity.
Photo credit to Flinga from Wikimedia Commons
Anyone who wants to fight for gender equality in the workplace has to be aware that even small victories count, and raising awareness by having meaningful conversations is necessary for change. Take for example the gender-neutral lavatory. However you might feel about this idea, it has to be brought up to bring to light to how the transgendered community needs these changes to happen to enjoy the simplest restroom privileges that the rest of humanity enjoys.
In other news, researchers have determined that many office building thermostats use a setting that adjusts the temperature based on the comfort level of a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds. The study also cited that women mostly have slower metabolic rates, and thus get cold faster.
These issues might seem trivial, but they’re all symptoms that make up a greater body of injustices. Unless conversations are started, women are just left with the shorter end of the stick. Women, after all, take up about 50% of the workforce. If it’s been proven that simple comforts like easy access to bathroom facilities and even sufficient heating because everyone is just used to a world that favors male needs more, how can we start on the more important matters? When it comes to gender equality in the professional field, awareness isn’t enough. Meaningful and rational discussion are required.
What we have to keep in mind is these forecasts of gender equality are just that—forecasts. Achieving gender equality is a work in progress, but it’s something society as a whole has to work towards constantly, and the changing times are victories, small as they are.
Do you wish to learn more about the state of gender equality in other countries? You’d be surprised at how progressive some places are and how behind the times others are.