Equality in the Workplace – Where We Are Now
Way before the Women’s March of January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC took place—which is reported to be the largest protest in U.S. history—women have always fought a battle for pay equality and fair treatment in the workplace. But that monumental march helped bring these long-time issues to the forefront. Thanks in part to the Women’s March, now only are these topics now openly and actively discussed across all applicable platforms, including lectures, events, and social media, people are also making all-out efforts to do something about it. For them, it’s time for big changes to happen.
Leading the Way
Pay equality between men and women is no longer a pipe dream. In fact, several countries are already way ahead of the curve, particularly the Nordic countries Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Based on the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report” for 2018, these are the Top 4 countries where females are in equal footing with their male counterparts. It didn’t happen overnight, of course. Like other countries, they also had their struggles to get to where they are now, and a strong political feminism movement in the 1970s, especially in Iceland, helped paved the way. After all, the very first female president in the world came from Iceland by way of Vigdis Finnbogadottir in 1980.
Apart from a strong support of female empowerment, these Nordic countries also have policies that affirm equal responsibilities between parents in terms of childcare are in top priority. In these countries, fathers—not just mothers—have access to a sufficient period of parental leave, allowing for a fair division of childcare obligations between parents. In contrast, in most other countries, childcare responsibilities still fall heavily on the shoulders of mothers, which almost results in lesser opportunities for career advancement.
While other countries have made progress—or are making progress—it can’t be helped that there are some which continue to lag behind. In some of these countries, girls are not provided with equal opportunities for education as the patriarchal mindset still clings to the idea that it would be the boys who will be the main breadwinners for families, present and future, not the girls when they become adults and reach marrying age.
In other cases, women are not paid at all for their labour and they are regulated to merely domestic chores and prevented to go after opportunities to reach their full potential in their careers.
Gender Equality in Canada
Canada is not behind the times when it comes to the issue of gender equality, but the situation certainly has a wide area for improvement. According to Statistics Canada, the labour force remains to be dominated by males as of June 2019, with only 61.4% of females who are employed as compared to 70.1% of males.
When it comes to management positions, the difference is staggering. As of 2018, 64.9% of employees in management level are males, leaving a measly 35.1% for women in the similar positions. One may argue this is due to the limited number of educational opportunities for women, but that seems to be out of the question at this point since the statistics don’t lie. In fact, as of 2016, 51.6% of the population with post-secondary qualification holders are women, and only 48.4% are men. Women also fare better in completing high school and obtain higher test scores in reading, mathematics, and adult literacy. So what gives?
There’s no clear-cut answer why gender equality still seems to be elusive, but the important thing is that things are progressing. In fact, in a recent Global News article featuring nine women who defied the odds to thrive in what were previously believed to be male-dominated industries like medicine and finance, it’s possible to break the barriers. This doesn’t mean that women should feel compelled to one-up men in their respective workplaces but to focus on pushing towards their goals and ensuring that the work environment is conducive to collaboration and teamwork. After all, it is through working in harmony—despite the differences—where we can achieve long-lasting success.