In today’s economy, the modern woman finds herself confronted with a significant number of challenges. So many times we see women trying to balance their career and family; Multitasking has become part of a woman’s daily routine. A great number of women are still attempting to do it all: be a wonderful wife and mother, have a successful career, make time to socialize, and still have time for their hobbies and interests.
Being a modern woman in today’s society is not easy, due to the challenges we are faced with on a regular basis. Many professional women still feel societal pressure to prove themselves. Even though we are in the 21st century, and we have seen a lot of progress, women are still faced with obstacles. There’s a lot more to be done. For example, women still earn less than men. While the gap is getting smaller, it’s still a gap…and the women are on the wrong side.
The data offered by the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development published by the World Bank this month, offers pertinent information regarding women in today’s society from around the world. In the past 20 years, women’s lives have seen a substantial improvement but at work gender inequality is still a persistent reality. It is still a global “trend” for women to earn 10-30% less than men. Another interesting fact pointed out by the World Bank’s report is that economic growth does not narrow this gap. Additionally, there is a clear division between “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs.” Women are now predominant in fields like retail and public administration, communications, health and education. However, traditionally male occupations have seen no significant change. Men still dominate industries such as transportation and mining. The numbers don’t lie: 11% of men work in construction; only 1% of women do.
According to the the World Bank, there are three reasons that can help us explain why this is happening:
1. Discrimination. Some laws (and people) treat the sexes differently, and women are seen less capable to do certain jobs.
2. Women do not have the same access to education that men do which can lead to women being less qualified than their male counterparts. Though advances in female education are widespread, they are not universal.
3. The main reason that women cluster in low-paid fields, the bank argues, is that they do not control their own time.
“A consequence of this uneven sharing of responsibilities among men and women is that women usually enter the labor market with the additional responsibility of domestic work, which affects and shapes the extent of their participation in labor markets and the returns on their endowments.”
In developed countries like Italy or Austria women do at least three times as much housework and childcare as men. Compare this to a less developed country like Cambodia, where they do 50% more. Income has little to do with this.
Not surprisingly, women are more likely than men to take informal or part-time work. There are cases where this is a voluntary choice but sometimes they are pushed by employers’ attitudes or sexist laws. The bank concludes that:
“Reducing the burden of domestic chores on women’s time can open up opportunities in other areas. (…) Progress has been tremendous where lifting a single barrier is sufficient [for example, in education]”
The reality is that the beliefs and attitudes of an entire society are difficult to change. Due to human biology, women will always have the babies and men in general will always be physically stronger. It’s just a fact of life, but this isn’t what makes society sexist. It’s that women are still paid less, and the off-balance ratios of men to women in jobs that can be done just as well by either sex. People still assume a secretary is a woman and a mechanical engineer is a man. Change may be slow, but it’s happening!
Additional source: Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective, 3rd Edition by Shawn Meghan Burn