What prevents women from being equal in the workplace?
What prevents women from being equal in the workplace? The Girl Guiding movement carried out research published as Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2015. It covers a wide range of issues from well-being to sexual stereotyping & aspiration, to violence against females, sexism and relationships. Under aspirations, the report suggests when girls are around 7-12 years they feel and believe that their life chances are the same as the boys. However, at that age they are already sticking to very defined gender stereotypes. So, what happens to young females when they enter secondary education? An interesting area in the survey was, ‘If I could change one thing’. The responses show how little society has changed in terms of equality and how the media is fuelling how girls and young women feel about themselves. ‘Some themes came up again and again: greater equality, action against stereotyping of girls and women across the media, more awareness of mental health and well-being issues, and to live free from fear and violence.’ These themes suggest once again that women in society are making little progress.
Other recent surveys suggest that ‘teenagers’ are more depressed now than they ever have been in the past, well at least since these things were measured. The Young Minds charity provides information and support to parents/guardians and young people. On their website it suggests, ‘What is the problem’. In my view there are a number of reasons, when it comes to females. Many parents, guardians & carers are saying to young females that they can be anything they wish to be. The reality is that women have to fight so much harder to achieve their ambitions. Not only does their gender put them at a disadvantage, the media reinforces gender stereotypes. There are subtle ways in which women are not only subjugated by men, but even buy in to it. This is particularly the case around the use of language. Women are often referred to as ‘girls’, even by women e.g. ‘the girls in the office’, ‘the girls at work’, ‘the girls on the team’ and so on. Women often say that there is nothing wrong with this. Whereas men are lads or men. The only time I really hear the term ‘boys’ when referring to men, is in reference to football players, ‘the boy(s) played well’, or ‘done good’ to use a more common phrase. What I also find extremely concerning is that the survey suggests that the females surveyed believe that women live in fear and violence. In 2014 the Ministry of Justice published a report ‘Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 2013’. Statistics show that men are most likely to be the victims of violence, particularly from strangers. I have often heard that the most likely victim of violent crime is, a white male, 16-24 years old, drunk, in a town centre on a Friday or Saturday night. Not surprisingly, the profile of an offender is identical. Violence increases statistically towards women when it comes to offences of sexual violence and domestic violence. Once again it is the age group 16-24 years that has the highest incidents, but the perpetrator is far more likely to be a male.
It is a shame that in a modern society we still need to support women’s issues to enable people to be seen as equals, not only in the workplace, but in the home and in education. Well done to the Girl Guiding movement. Not only do we need to change female attitudes to themselves, but attitudes of society as a whole.