Movements for the gender equality started in the beginning- or mid- 20th century depending on the geography. Still, equality is an issue that businesses, politicians, and social scientists, are actively addressing. Now, when the engine is working on full power, it is time to look in the future of equal society. This article investigates the current trends, ways to achieve equality and what is the future of the genderless humanity.
Gender Wars and the consequences
Differences of sexes,
or why do we still need quotas
Joe Herbert, an Emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, argues that the gender difference in performance is based on both biological propensity and socialization, where none works alone. Human strength is predetermined genetically by parents and ancestors, and societally by the opportunity of choice. It is straightforward and out of the question that generally men are physically stronger than women. Nevertheless, the genes, diet, lifestyle and other factors can vastly change the situation. Moreover, male-predominant professions that require physical strength are being substituted via automation and robotics, erasing the gender superiority in many fields. Joe Herbert says that ideally there have to be no gender quotas but a provision of equal opportunities. However, for now, "the roles of men and women in society, and the way they interact, has altered throughout the centuries, sometimes rapidly, at other times slowly, but also very variably in different societies", points out the professor. He challenges our society: "Are we mature enough to accept real gender differences in behavior?"
As humanity is making first steps towards equality, numbers matter. In 2016, 57 percent of professional occupations of U.S.workforce, 26 percent of professional computing occupation, and 20 percent of Fortune 100 Chief Information Officer (CIO) positions are held by women. Meanwhile in EU, the gender employment gap is 12 percent, across the borders 76 percent of men and 64 percent of women are engaged in the labor market. According to an analysis by The Economist, nordic lands like Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, in the order respectively to the ranking, have ranked as having the best environment for working women. The engagement of both sexes in the economy, as well as smart family policies, bring the region upfront to the economical prosperity.
At the same time, there is an opposite example of Japan, which scored about 30 points out of 100 and got the 28th place in The Economist's evaluation. The country suffers from extreme low fertility rates due to lack of welfare and family support. It is hard for women to return to the labor market after having kids as the maternity leave covers 6 weeks prior to the expected birth date to 8 weeks after giving birth. After that woman may be offered a year child care leave which is not a common practice. In addition, low access to pre-school child care holds women to stay at home for a couple of years. This policy hole results in the unwillingness of ambitious women to start a family. According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, with the current policies, Japan’s population will plummet by almost 40 million by 2065. The new welfare system which will include female population in the workforce and provide smart family policies is essential for the economic survival of the nation.
is it real?
Emeritus Professor of the University of Helsinki, Pauli Samunen, argues that there is no pay gap in Finland but women work fewer hours than man. According to his research, the hourly pay is almost same for the both genders. However, if to look at the monthly salary, man are financially better than women. To follow up with this argument, Heidi Marttila, a leading expert at Confederation of Finnish Industries, claims that if women want to get closer to men's earnings, they should focus more on the private sector and the traditional male-dominated sectors. Do those statements stay true in the real world where there is still a societal pressure and different roles for genders? What if to look not only at hours but performance as well?
A couple of research on women leadership underline that women perform better in leadership roles throughout companies’ organizational structure. For instance, DDI study shows that in the top 20 percent of financial performance companies, 27 percent of leaders are women. In HBR blog, consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman described similar findings from their survey: “at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts — and the higher the level, the wider that gap grows.” There is a notion that if women had a higher confidence level in their activity, their position in leadership roles and financial results would be even more significant. However, due to an important role in the family, sexist attitudes in the international arena, and still existing discrimination in the workplace, women tend not to volunteer for international assignments that bring success and high business achievement. It is essential to remember, that under current social rules, work and life balance for women is a trade-off and hard decision to choose. HBR research even shows that gender equality makes men feel discriminated against in the US.
One of the very good exercises to do is to imagine the world with no gender difference at all and deductively move towards action that would aid to achieve equal world. To begin with, let's try to exclude biological difference. Can we outsource childbearing? As a matter of fact, there are scientists working towards this goal. The Artificial womb designed by Philadelphia physicians has fully developed eight lambs. It is just a matter of time when such solution will be applicable for humans.
The next stage is child care and household work. Could those tasks be performed by robots? Japanese scientists are working towards creating nanny-androids to tackle the shortage of staffing crisis in child care industry. iPal is a robotic nanny that could keep children busy for hours. One of the advisors to Avatar Mind, Madeline Duva, is not sure yet if the robot can substitute an adult: “That’s a good question. We don’t have an answer to that. A lot of parents hand an iPad to kids to keep them quiet. This is more interactive.” Robo-nannies is a new future industry that raises plenty of ethical questions at the moment. Nevertheless, the demand creates supply and total outsourcing of the maternity tasks is not far away.
With the current technology, in order to be equal to men, woman postpone starting the family. As a result, there is a new and significant market segment of well-educated, intelligent women who choose to be single and pursue the career. According to Young and Rubicam study, this target audience is heavy spenders with high brand loyalty. They are attracted by appealing to their feelings of self-respect and independence. There is a scenario that in the future the market segments will lose the gender belonging and will focus on the lifestyle.
Gender equality economical benefits are recognized around the world. Is that true that women perform better than men? The time will show. For now, lots of efforts are directed to lower the biological difference between gender. The new equal society will require new structure and development of different roles in the household. One way or another, equality has both economical and social benefits.