Weekly report of a young feminist #6: The story about masculinity penetrating the women’s success
My friend is a member of so-called radical sewing group Kundy Crew. They highlight social problems through art which takes the form of piece of fabric bearing a strong message. One of their sewing art pieces says I’m not a racist, but… This sentence is very sharp and simultaneously describes the massive social problem existing in the society across the world. We have our own issues with racist approach in the parliament (in Slovakia), but that’s another story. Coming back to the message, once someone told me the story about a guy who, after a few days in his new work, told his female boss who was actually training him that he wants her job. Just like that, as it was his aboriginal right to be the leader.
However, the highest positions with the greatest influence are taken by the male protagonists. I’m not saying they’re unqualified, I would never think that but on the other hand, the proportion of men and women being on those positions is extremely unequal. When we take into consideration the gender of absolvents, we see that the numbers are balanced in terms of male and female graduates, sometimes even in favour of women. If all those smart women sequentially disappear, I wonder, were all of them simply incapable of preforming the high ranked job or did they voluntarily step down from the competition? I hardly believe that only few were good enough.
As I said in the previous post, I have to face a lot of criticism when I’m talking about the male privilege, therefore I started to operate more with the numbers. I intentionally searched for stats showing the female share in the international businesses or any type of numbers which would indicate women’s presence in the leading positions. I found one recent statistics focusing on women business owners in Europe in 2018. According to the graph, Russia is the leader in this matter, having 35% of female business owners and the least hospitable environment seems to be in Ireland with the percentage reaching only 20. Additional interesting statistics is scrutinizing the share of women in IT leadership worldwide, but unfortunately the data were collected in 2016. Anyhow, Norway is leading the list with its 26% and Belgium closes it with only 2%. Both graphs can be found below.
Very interesting comparison of women’s and men’s social situation is studied by World Economic Forum, which published Global Gender Gap Report 2020. It shows the inequity in every societal aspect. Proportion of women in business across the world never reaches 50%. When we look at the data of women in companies’ board of directors, the maximum is 43,4% in France and minimum 2,1% in Korea (we should be glad that there is no zero). Workplace gap is not an exception since the percent of firms with majority female ownership is 14%, percent of firms with a female top manager is 18% and the percentage of females in senior roles reaches 36%. All of these numbers are surprising, because the research shows that 41% of women enter the tertiary education, compered to 36% of men.
The story about women’s unfair struggles continues with a known yet repressed phenomenon. Women usually face harder conditions when entering or succeeding in various businesses. One term indicating the difficulties for women who are willing to climb the career ladder is the term glass ceiling. I’m confident that majority of you is familiar with the term. Surprisingly, it was invented very long time ago, in 1978 by a young management consultant Marilyn Loden. Glass ceiling is the type of obstacle which is hard to overcome but easy to overlook. Imagine yourself climbing a ladder and suddenly hitting the ceiling which you never noticed before. You can see through it but still can’t conquer it. Women experience struggles regardless the relevance of their skills, knowledge or behaviour. Once she reaches a particular stage in the hierarchy, she is dismissed from variety of reasons – too emotional, not emotional enough, too strict, not strict enough etc.
Indeed, as Marilyn Loden states herself, the society and the professional hierarchy changed dramatically. On the other hand, she immediately adds that the term is still as relevant as ever. Saying that your gender has significant impact on your future in terms of job opportunities is the simple truth. Even I think it might sound as a fairy tale, but looking at the numbers, doesn’t it feel weird that vast majority of business owners are men, or that your boss is almost always a guy?
The fundamental achievements of women throughout the history always make me feel triumphant. When Slovakia finally elected its first female president, I understood the notion of nationalism. The fact that Slovak citizens overcame their stereotypical prejudices was a fundamental moment in country’s evolution. I shared this cheerful moment with my peers, but I also claimed that one female victory didn’t change the perception Slovaks have on gender. It’s the same situation as when Barack Obama won the elections. As the first black American president, he’ll always represent a notable shift in county’s trajectory. However, does it mean that the victory of Obama ended the racism in America? No. So, why do we expect that electing a female president will mean the end of gender inequality in Slovakia?
When applying for job as a woman or when achieving a remarkable goal, you have to realize that you will probably have it harder. Your appearance will be more measured, further your age since they expect you to take the maternity leave at a certain point, your emotional background, your family status etc. For those who disagree, I assure you I’m well aware of exaggerative expectations men have to fulfil as well, however compered to women’s situation, it arises as a less of a problem. I surely believe that not every woman is able to lead the world, but the point is to live in a society where the men’s and women’s chances are 50/50. I wish for the equal representation in both politics and business and for the cancellation of “women’s jobs”. I’m confident that we can find at least 49% of perfectly suitable women who are capable of leading the world alongside with men.