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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Equality Not So Equal

The World Economic Forum's study of the Global Gender Gap made the news. It came out in December but nobody noticed. Not a big surprise, the Scandinavian countries fill the top spots-
1. Iceland
2. Norway
3. Finland
4. Sweden

Where's the US? 19th- and that's a 12-point rise. It's the first time in the 5 years of the study that the US cracked the top 20. The UK? 15th.

The criteria?
1) Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2) Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
3) Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio
4) Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures

Through my whole working life, I was paid less than the men I worked with. It was a given in the 70s, when I started working. It was a given everywhere I worked, actually, right up through the last job I held. A man could walk in with almost no experience and within 2 weeks get the title of "meatcutter" and make several dollars more than I did after working there for years, with years of  food service experience, with a BA and as a graduate of a cooking school.

The gender prejudice still rules. In every workplace I heard demeaning comments about women, as jokes or just an assumed truth spoken among men in my presence. Not to mention that men with a family are thought of as stable, while women with a family are thought of as unreliable. Most of the time children are still the responsibility of their mother, and their health issues, their extracurricular activities, anything that happens in a child's life, are the mother's job to deal with. I see this in my aide's life and the lives of my friends all the time. And why? Because the male partner makes the lion's share of the household income.

There is still far to go before the US can claim equality in its citizenry, on many levels.


Anonymous said...

I guess I bought into that because I don't remember ever even knowing what the men who did the same thing as me got paid. Right down to my last job that I retired from about a year and a half ago...there were a few men in my unit..I have no idea if they were paid more than me or not. Couldn't tell you. I'd like to think we were all judge by the same criteria and paid accordingly but, who knows. I'd make a lousy feminist.
Where did Canada fall on the graph?

CarrieBoo said...

It's not easy being a single girl/woman and trying to get by, that's for sure. It's a lot of pressure, which I have found they enjoy milking for all its worth. And the belittling, humiliating treatment. Yeah. It would be easier now I'm married as I would be in a position to say FU. I am not inspired to go back out there, I tell ya. You need to be hard as nails to make it in "boys club".

Austan said...

Lawless- In a lot of workplaces it's forbidden to talk about your wages. If you belonged to a union, chances are they made the same $. Canada came in 20th in the list.

Carrie- Seems to not be much different when you're married, though I can't imagine trying to do it all when single! You do need to be hard as nails. Of course some would say it's my own fault for working in traditionally masculine workplaces...

CarrieBoo said...

20th! Crikey. That sucks. Well, easier in that I wouldn't have to think 'lose my home or put up with this bollocks'; I feel more confident in myself than I did back then; and I wouldn't let somebody bully me again. But you're right, not easier being there, generally. It's hard to be around. I didn't realize how lucky I was with my first job in England. They were so good to me. Even when I wasn't earning that much, it was still my favourite ever job.

Yeah, how dare you excel in a traditionally "manly" job-role! ;) Good grief.

paulg said...

If there's anything that disappoints me about "now" it's that we have not come further with gender equity.

In fact earlier this year the one film I saw of the Women's film festival was the Benazir Bhutto biopic.
In it they said that Bhutto was not a feminist, which got me upset. How could a woman who did so much for Pakistan's women not be a feminist? Labels, labels...

Anyway, I brought the discussion home and was totally taken off guard when my 20 year old said she hated feminists because they were so angry.
This is a girl who has all her life sought out books and movies about strong women - and she is one herself - she knows a little bit about the struggles.
Yet she has this very strong negative stereotype of feminists (course, my wife and I both immediately said, "well we're feminists!" which quieted the kid a bit).
I wonder if Rush Limbaugh's feminazi thing hasn't wormed its way into the cultural consciousness?