This Women’s Equality Day, a review of their unequal status in society as a whole and their unsuccessful struggle against gender inequality in the workplace.
Women were not allowed to take part in ancient Olympics, except by entering the horses they owned into a race. Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), continued this tradition by excluding female athletes from the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Though women were allowed to compete in the 1900 Paris Olympics for the first time, Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia sent women participants to the Olympics only in 2012. The 2016 Rio Olympic Games have 161 men’s events versus only 145 women’s and mixed events combined, but women make up approximately 45% of the total participants, according to the IOC. Additionally, the Olympic equestrian events have women competing one-on-one against men. So, it appears that gender equality in the workplace isn’t the only thing that has been eluding women, it’s their status in society itself. That’s obviously why we have set a day aside to call it “Women’s Equality Day.”
Workplaces tend to set barriers to entry to women in certain male-dominated jobs. Law, politics and finance are fields that discourage women from participation, while teaching, nursing and secretarial jobs are considered to be the near-exclusive domain of women in the workplace. Women find many barriers to advancement at work such as:
On this Women’s Equality Day, we should be asking ourselves if the women around us have equal opportunity, equal treatment and equal protection at home and in the workplace, as well as in the society around us. What’s the answer you hear?
This reminds one of the story where a frog falls in a deep well, and for every three feet it climbs back out, it falls back two feet! To be fair, we’re talking about 49.6% of 7.4 billion human beings in 200 countries around the world! Women have to fight for basic human rights, for dignity, for physical safety, for independence, for education (think Malala Yousufzai) and for a place in political representation. And the struggle is by no means over for many of them, and the results will take time. From the success of the suffragette movement in 1928, the United Kingdom has advanced to have a second woman Prime Minister in 2016! Other countries that granted women the right to vote did so at different times: New Zealand (1893), United States and Canada (1919). A major political party in the U.S. has finally nominated a woman for presidential candidate.
Most women want to get fair and just treatment and to enjoy the ability to attain their dreams and reach their individual goals and potential. Most do not have ambitions to equal Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’ who says:
“I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.”
So, if you ask me if gender equality a fait accompli, I would say, “It all depends on where you are standing!” Bu, it can’t be dismissed as a pipe dream either, because we’re talking about nearly half of the human race!
How does gender equality in the workplace pan out at your job?
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