Friday, April 19, 2024
Editorial

Gender biases

According to International Labour Organization (ILO), gender imbalances in access to employment and working conditions are greater than previously thought and progress in reducing them has been disappointingly slow in the last two decades. In its 8-page report released on March 5, the ILO highlights that 15% of working-age women globally would like to work but do not have a job, compared with 10.5% of men in a similar situation. Worryingly, it says that this gender gap has remained almost unchanged for two decades (2005-2022). The jobs gap is particularly severe in developing countries where the proportion of women unable to find a job reaches 24.9% in low-income countries. The corresponding rate for men in the same category is 16.6%, a worrisome level but significantly lower than that for women. Gender imbalances in decent work are not limited to access to employment. While vulnerable employment is widespread for both women and men, women tend to be overrepresented in certain types of vulnerable jobs. For instance, women are more likely to be helping out in their households or in their relatives’ businesses rather than being in own-account work. This vulnerability, together with lower employment rates, takes a toll on women’s earnings. Globally, for each dollar of labour income men earn, women earned only 51 cents. In low and lower-middle income countries, the gender disparity in labour income is much worse, with women earning 33 cents and 29 cents on the dollar respectively. In high-income and upper-middle income countries, women’s relative labour income reaches 58 and 56 cents respectively per dollar earned by men. According to the ILO, the new estimates shine a light on the magnitude of gender disparities in labour markets, underscoring how important it is to improve women’s overall participation in employment, expand their access to employment across occupations, and address the glaring gaps in job quality that women face. Gender bias is a pervasive issue that can lead, and has led, to the undervaluing and underestimation of women’s contributions. This bias can be conscious or unconscious and can manifest in a variety of ways, such as assuming that women are less competent or less committed to their work than men. Stereotyping of gender roles can also result in the undervaluing of women’s contributions. There are still widely held stereotypes that associate women with more nurturing and emotional roles and men with more logical and analytical roles. These stereotypes can lead to the assumption that women are less suited for certain types of work or leadership roles, which can lead to their contributions going unrecognised. Another factor is the lack of women in leadership positions and decision-making roles ~ not by choice, needless to say. When there are fewer women in leadership roles, their contributions are less likely to be recognised or valued. This lack of representation can also lead to a lack of role models and mentors for women, which can limit their opportunities for recognition and advancement. The historical legacy of gender inequality has contributed to women’s contributions going unrecognised. For many years, women were excluded from numerous professions and were not afforded the same opportunities as men. Although there have been significant advances in gender equality in recent decades, the legacy of this inequality can still be seen in many workplaces and can contribute to women’s contributions going unrecognised. There is also some significant body of research that suggests that social connections play a crucial role in determining workforce participation and career outcomes for both women and men. However, there are differences in the nature of social connections that men and women have, which can impact their career trajectories. Additionally, women are often underrepresented in professional networks, which can limit their access to job opportunities and career advancement. This phenomenon is often referred to as the ‘glass ceiling’ and can be attributed to a variety of factors, including gender bias, discrimination, and social norms that restrict women’s access to professional networks. Certain socio-cultural factors also restrict women’s physical mobility, more so in urban contexts with poor public infrastructure (such as transport) and a poor record on women’s safety. Addressing these biases and inequalities is essential to ensuring that women’s contributions are recognised and valued in all workplaces.

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