Many facets of our society have come a long way in regard to gender equality. Women are now major players in some of the most important roles within our society such as doctors, politicians, and CEOs. That all being said, unfortunately, gender inequality is still very much alive and well in 2020. The World Economic Forum predicts it will take 170 years to reach gender equality globally, which is simply too long.
While most people are familiar with the world’s current gender equality issues, many aren’t as familiar with gender equity’s role in achieving a society where opportunities aren’t swayed by identity. Gender equity focuses on “fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.” Being aware of the differences between gender equality and gender equity and how equity can lead to equality, can aid in the fight for equal opportunities regardless of gender and hopefully shorten the time it takes to finally achieve equality across the globe.
Bridge the Gap
The gender pay gap. No matter how many times white, male politicians or your conservative uncle on social media tries to deny it, it is still very much a problem across multiple job industries within countries across the globe. The pay gap not only affects folks at gender level, but at race as well.
White women make $0.79 for every $1 a white man makes. Black women earn less than that, averaging $0.63, and Latina women typically earn even less, making $0.54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. The wage gap especially affects the livelihoods of women of color since many of them are the breadwinners of their families. Moreover, women today are attending college in record numbers, but they’re also drowning in school debt thanks in part to the wage gap.
The healthcare industry is one example to look at. Studies have shown that female doctors earn 27.7 percent less than male doctors, which comes out to a loss of $105,000 per year. This cuts into a woman’s ability to pay for essential necessities like mortgages, utilities, rent, car payments, and even putting food on the table — and, of course, their student debt (medical school isn’t cheap).
Despite men and women earning the same education and degrees at the same medical schools, working similar hours, using the same medical textbooks, and spending the same amount of time interning and doing residencies, women are often paid less for the same work. According to Western Governors University, there are some helpful solutions to help close the gap in the healthcare industry and bring about better equality:
- Train women to negotiate higher salaries. Women often know they’re a valuable asset in their workplace, but years of gender stereotypes and pushback against strong, commanding women has resulted in many women feeling as though they can’t stand up and ask for what they deserve, which includes asking for higher wages and promotions.
- Strengthen equal pay for equal work laws. Government policies play a major role in ensuring that women are treated and paid equally, so it’s essential to vote for government officials who work towards improving equal pay laws.
- Encourage young women to be leaders. The youth is our future. By inspiring more confidence in young women and promoting leadership by having them lift up their voices and opinions can lead to more generations breaking down traditional gender norms in the workforce.
- Improve childcare affordability and availability. Women are often forced to choose between their career or raising a family. By lifting this burden with better childcare options, women will be able to take more opportunities that further improve their careers.
- Promote wage transparency. Companies are more likely to self-regulate their pay gaps when they have better wage transparency. It can feel taboo to talk about wages with co-workers, but that’s exactly what a lot of companies are counting on so that they can continue to pay women and people of color less.
- Encourage men to take primary care positions. Women are often left to juggle work with cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing. When we break down gender roles and encourage men to take on more responsibility within their homes, women can take on more responsibilities at work which can lead to promotions and more leadership roles.
It’s imperative that companies in the healthcare industry and beyond take on the task of providing resources and policies that lead to better gender equality and pay amongst employees. By implementing more nuanced methods of taking on gender inequality by incorporating gender equity strategies, our society can begin eliminating detrimental traditions that make women’s lives in and out of the workforce more difficult and simply unfair.
The Price of Pregnancy
Another way our society holds women back is with the idea that a woman can’t have it all. When it comes to starting a family or progressing in their careers, it’s usually an either-or situation. According to a 2018 study in Denmark, while men rarely face a penalty when they start a family, a woman who has a child sees a 20 percent dip in her earnings when compared to women who do not have children. Furthermore, that gap persists for the remainder of her professional life.
Due to the stigma of pregnancy, women tend to lose out on business opportunities because employers assume they’ll be the primary caretaker and won’t be able to work after they recover postpartum, which for many women can be a struggle on its own. Gender equity is important to incorporate into the workforce because men will never be faced with the choice between getting pregnant and their careers.
In many parts of the business world, it’s widely thought that men should be the ones to make the “big” decisions at work. With the false stigma that women aren’t as capable as their male counterparts to make tough business decisions such as firing a client or deciding to go forward with a risky investment, companies are actually more likely to lose out on better opportunities and perhaps even alienate a major part of their consumer-base.
It turns out that having a more diverse group of people involved in a companies’ decision-making broadens the perspectives, reduces conflicts, increases creativity and innovation, and promotes higher quality decisions. The truth is, women are just as capable as men when it comes to making tough business decisions, but they aren’t always given the chance to input their opinions or their ideas aren’t taken seriously. Furthermore, by having both men and women involved, companies can expand their scope and appeal to a broader audience.
Empowering women through better gender equity policies and practices can lead to a world where both men and women are rewarded equally within the workforce and within society. Equal gender equity is not only important and beneficial for women but it’s also beneficial for all of society and everyone in it.
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