Sunday, 17 May 2009


A couple of things in the news at the minute that caught my attention.

Women, even in the same job as men, still earn less.

It's not going to get better for another 180-odd years.

Apparently they don't earn as much because they have less of a sense of entitlement than men do.

Though I see an interesting correspondence with this, and wonder whether or not the women claimed as much as the men... interesting

And an interesting article about how even other people view men with more of a sense of entitlement than women. (ok, it's not quite about that, but I wanted to make it all fit nicely.)
Seriously though, if anyone has any doubt that women are still treated like second class citizens in this world, take a look at some of those comments under the article. Plenty of straight-up woman-bashing like:

"What exactly stops women forming their own corporations and filling their boards with women? Oh no that's too hard, easier to legislate yourself onto boards that don't want you"

"Half the cabinet wouldn't be there but for all women quotas."

Commenter1 : "the woman filling the post has to have at least the same skills as a male applicant."
Commenter 2:
"I disagree. Rather, the same or better!"

"If a man is currently filling a post, then a woman replacing (displacing) him must be at least as competent and qualified as the person she is replacing, if not more so." (my italics)

Lovely. A woman has to be better than a man to get exactly the same job. This is, and has been the status quo for decades. My Mum had to get better grades at A-level than her male peers just to get an offer at a university, and that was thirty years ago, give or take. You'd never see that today, and yet as soon as it gets beyond education and into the actual jobs market, that's suddenly fair? Hmm...

Oh, and of course the whole bell-curve IQ argument gets dragged up again. In summary, for those of you who don't know, there has been research done to suggest that the spectrum of IQs runs like this:
Women: Very pointed bell curve; Lots of women in the middle range of IQ, not a lot at either end (so not many really stupid women, but not many exceptionally smart ones either)
Men: Flatter bell curve; generally wider distribution of IQs with both ends higher than the female line. (So the bulk of very high IQs are male, but also the bulk of really low ones)
Never mind that the standard IQ test is a highly artificial way of measuring intelligence, people keep trying to suggest that this is a good thing for men; that because most of the high IQs are male, that men in general have a higher IQ than women. Wrong. Firstly, the average IQ (taking either the mode or mean average) is higher for women (using the medium, it's exactly the same). Secondly, that top section where men do better is only the very top end of the spectrum. In general, people being hired for board management are somewhere below that, so actually, women are still going to have better IQs at that level. And thirdly, statistics can be manipulated and presented in a way to show anything you damn well like, so really, I wish people would stop using this argument to try and suggest something it doesn't.

When it comes down to it, I'm actually in favour of this kind of quota as a temporary solution. Because the only other way, it seems, for women to get into top jobs is to act more like men. Once you have a good percentage of women at the top (rather than one or two token females), the criteria are going to change - You're going to have people at the top who can recognise the positives in typically female traits, and how they can be an asset to your business, people who can understand that soft-spoken is not the same as lacking confidence, that there is not just one set (male) way of doing things. And this is the clincher: they can hire women who are as good as men, but not, as the case is now, exactly the same as men. People have got this confused. They judge success by a purely male yardstick, and so in order for women to succeed in companies where men get to set the standards of merit, they have to behave like men.

It wouldn't surprise me that some people will think, with a quota system in place, that women at the top got there purely because of the quota. Yes, people are going to think that. But just because some people take a prejudiced view isn't a reason not to impliment a measure that could be immesurably beneficial.
People are going to see what they believe to be less-qualified women promoted above more-qualified men, but what they don't realise is that these women may actually be more qualified than the men but their positive qualities are not being recognised and, in fact, that at the minute being a woman in itself is a positive quality. The unpalatable thing to accept is that a woman in a top position is (at present) intrinsicly better than an equally qualified male candidate simply because she is a woman, and because she can start re-setting the yardstick to include the typically feminine merits that are currently being overlooked by men in charge.

I don't see quota having to be in force for long. A generation at maximum. Just enough to make people see that women can be successful and can promote success in their orgnaisations without having to behave like men. The thing is that if we don't, at the pace change is coming, we aren't going to see equal gender representation until 2225. And I don't even see that. Because unless we do something radical now, even the women at the top in 2225 are all going to act like men, because that's what they had to do to get the job.

We need quotas, no matter how unpalatable they may seem. Unless there is another measure we could take that allows women to succeed without having to compromise their identity and integrity, but at the minute I can't see one.

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