We’ve long moved away from the days when a woman is seen as the home keeping baby making machine that fixes your warm meal after your exhaustingly long day at work. Women have the freedom to be educated without underlying social influences to guide them into a certain life. We no longer are limited to studying home economics, needle work and domestic science courses. We can choose to study real economics, sciences and mathematics. By using our right to study these tougher subjects, women can compete with men in the global market of trade for example, owning a business, directing a movie or judging a case.
Unfortunately, it seems however many rights and opportunities women achieve on paper, the real world just doesn’t treat them as equals. A prime example of this is the appointment of Jeane Kirkpatrick in 1981 as ambassador to the United Nations. Despite her position and power, she felt as though she wasn’t being taken seriously by the U.S foreign policy establishment or in the United Nations. Jeane complained that she was hardly ever listened to and had no effect on American foreign policy (Crapol, 1987). It’s ridiculous to see that even after working hard to become equally qualified and able to stand in a position of power, women are still hindered by institutional sexism. Women are being treated as though they are worth less and have less value of opinions simply due to their gender.
Another issue surrounding women in work is the pay gap. 2015 saw a few high profiled women criticising disparity in pay. Hollywood A-listers, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep are amongst those to address the issue. Lawrence publicised her anger after a Sony hack revealed that she had earned considerably less than her male co-stars in an essay she wrote for Lenny Letter newspaper. While Steep discussed reasons why it occurred, explaining that men control the film industry, in finance and in distribution. In America, for every dollar that a man earned, women were still earning only 77 cents in 2012. Similarly, in the UK women earned 82p for every pound that a man earned by the end of 2014 according to the ONS. The disparity does differ amongst age groups in the UK. The younger generation, 20s-30s, face no difference in pay, however as age increases the disparity increases also. Over 40s face disparity of 14% and over 50s in full time work is 18%.
Jo Swinson, the Minister for Women and Equalities and Business, announced “measures to help businesses analyse their pay gap and empower women to challenge their employers if they feel they are not being paid correctly.” Surely we can go further than simply encourage businesses to pay equally or give moral support to women that want to challenge their bosses (not that there’s anything wrong in that). Why not impose sanction on a business for unfair treatment for example in the form of fines? If business feel the repercussions of mistreating their employees we probably would see the pay gap reduce significantly.
It amazes me how versatile women are. Some are mothers, daughters, employees and wives all at once. Not only should women be seen as equals, perhaps even seen as superiors in a sense. Surprisingly enough, it seems Northern Ireland have taken up this notion. The pay gap in NI is narrower than the rest of the UK. They earn 91.1% of what men earn. However, if we exclude pay for part-time work, women not only get payed equal to men, but it’s been tossed the other way around. On average, women now earn 3.3% more than men in full time work!
Now don’t confuse me to be a radicalistic. Although it shouldn’t really be seen as radical to want women to earn MORE than men, after all men have been doing it for centuries. I don’t advocate for further inequality by making men the receivers of lower pay. But as J.A Tickner says I just hope for “a future in which women and men could share equally in the construction of a safer and more just world.”
Crapol, E. (1987). Women and American foreign policy. New York: Greenwood Press.
Dugan, E. (2014). Gender pay gap falls – but men still earn 17.5% more. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/gender-pay-gap-falls-but-men-still-earn-175-more-9871401.html [Accessed 8 Dec. 2015].
Tickner, J.A. (1992). Gender in international relations: Feminist perspectives on achieving global security. New York: Columbia University Press. p25.