I wrote this article with my daughter, Omisha for her school assignment which was never submitted. We thought rather than letting the effort go to waste, we decided to publish, and share it.
The Past –
Long ago, women were regarded as the lesser or weaker species of human kind. Pre-dating industrialization or other eras of revolution, the feminine nature of women had confined them to house chores and family care. This was a global trend evident in ancient cultures of the east and western societies as well. The discrimination on women’s physical limitation during the agricultural age was not offensive, and was not intended to cause an outrage as the livelihoods of the population at large was reliant on the masculinity of men to work the land, rather than dependence on intellectual and management abilities. Then was the natural way of life where man was generally accepted as the superior candidate of the two gender. It is however, unfortunate that this perception was not entirely left behind.
The Transition –
The perception is preserved in the fabric of many cultures and managed to weave its way through from one generation to the next. With the many phases of socio-economic/political evolution starting from the era of industrialization to information technology (IT), the perception continues to remain in mind. The unabated perception has transformed into a taboo-like belief which is almost impossible to eradicate. Nonetheless, we’ve witnessed the waves of change in women’s contribution and open participation in the socio-economy/politic which began at the turn of 20th century. They’ve progressed from the confinement of the kitchen walls to the liberty of casting ballots. Opportunity not only grew but has diversified as well along side with progress in modernization which sets new challenges for women.
The Present –
I’ve brought to your attention on the brief past events in order to help readers delineate on the subject of my write-up. The subject of equality between genders does not cross reference to the physical aspect the human form. Having said that, people could still engaged in the antics of being gentlemanly, or lady-like to respect each others differences. “Gender Equality” today refers to the same salaries, benefits and opportunities given to women as men would have received them at workplaces. Women are to be equally graded on intellectual and management qualifications, and not the pretext of physical superiority. Even though human civilization is well into the 21st century, women have yet to attain equal status as men in many workplaces of global status.
During an event on “Women in Computing” held in Phoenix on 16 October 2014, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said this in his response to a question by a woman about pay raise;
“It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,”
“And that, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don’t ask for raises have.”
“Because that’s good karma,”
“It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to.”
It’s probably true what Satya implied that the grace of good karma stems from our actions which initiate a shift in society’s paradigm, but Satya must realised that he too is a proponent to the ’cause and effect’ reality. For millennia, women have proven their worth in existence side-by-side, and hand-in-hand with men assisting in mutual support whilst sharing many, many forms of success. Apart from personal merit, women need not prove themselves further in the way Satya suggested. Second class treatment of women at workplaces should have halted since universities started rolling out women graduates! Nothing good will come out of Satya’s non-doing. He is now eating his words everyday for breakfast.
Sadly, Satya’s statement proves that even in the 21st century, men generally and still bear the notion that women are unequal to men at workplaces. And, should there be discrimination on salaries, are women to be short changed in work benefits as well? Where is that imaginary line drawn between men and women to suggest that the separation is justified?
US census data for 2012 revealed women earned 76.5 cents for every dollar that men earned. CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) held a conference on” Women in Leadership” over a year ago. It was one of many campaigns to create an awareness in the society on gender gap at workplaces, and the need to put the practice which created the gap to an end. Sarah-Jane Derby, a senior research analyst at CEDA revealed a mild improvement in the gender participation gap over a 10 year spread, and the statistics also showed that the pay gap between genders is resisting change.
A young British talent and goodwill ambassador to the UN, Emma Watson addressed the UN assembly recently in support for women’s right, and to elicit change in the industry’s mind set. I quote;
“I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one I know for certain, it is that this has to stop”
“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals”
The Future –
Russell Brand gave reference to one of Albert Einstein’s views during an interview on his newly published book called ‘Revolution’. He said,
“You can’t change a system using the thinking which created it”
He continued to elaborate,
“Which means if you want to change things you’ve to look at alternative ways of thinking. The way things are at the moment, the people who benefit from it, don’t want it to change. They are happy with it the way it is. That is why things like ecological disaster, economic inequality, global meltdown and war are likely ignored because they are serving the purpose of the people in control. If you want change, it won’t come from them”
We need to re-educate our young by making available to them a functional environment which delivers the essence on gender equality to realise a balanced, and fulfilling lifestyle. Here, in their personal development they will mature in better understanding of gender equality through friendship, and mutual respect. The term ‘gender equality’ may still be regarded as taboo to some, but as Ms Watson said, “It’s not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it”. Change begins HERE in schools, and the time is NOW.