In recent years we’ve seen employers make groundbreaking strides in tackling gender inequality. There have also been a raft of measures to support women in their careers from the classroom to the boardroom, leaving nowhere for gender inequality to hide.But the job won’t be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognised equally and fairly in every workplace – and the pace is shockingly slow. Not one nation across the globe has yet managed to bring about equality between the sexes, with June 2016 research from Ellevate Network claiming women are now “tired of hearing about diversity in powerpoint presentations over a potluck lunch,” and want “to start seeing real change”. Moreover, it made clear that women wanted to see an increased cultural shift instead of being part of the business checkbox list. But no matter how much legislation we put in place, and whether we want to believe it or not, our own perception is the silent doorstop that prevents us from closing that gap. For example, a sample study of 8,000 UK adults, by Fawcett Society to gain a better picture of British attitudes towards the subject, found that some men thought equality had already been achieved, while others believed the female agenda had, in fact, now been pushed too far. Similarly, a report from Unesco highlighted that gender bias was rife in textbooks – mostly unintended – and was undermining girls’ motivation and achievement in schools. There are more mind-altering culprits, ranging from the stereotypical roles we automatically play at home, to our ability to still assign a person we’ve never met certain characteristics based on their appearance.
It’s an unconscious problem even Sheryl Sandberg, a huge advocate for gender equality, has faced before. In her 2010 TED talk, she told a story of when she gave a talk at Facebook. A few hours after her presentation, a young woman was waiting outside her office to talk to her about how she had learned to keep her hand up. When Sandberg questioned her about it, the woman allegedly explained that after her talk, Sandberg said she would take two questions. When two questions were asked, the women lowered their hands, but Sandberg took more questions – from the few men that had kept their hands raised. “I feel quite passionate about the subject so it hit me that I hadn’t noticed,” Sandberg claimed.
Read more on gender equality:
- easyJet launches government-backed flying initiative to double intake of female pilots
- My experience of making it in a man’s world
- How the rise of the female breadwinner will benefit both genders
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