While there has been a lot of change in the past several years, evidence shows that extensive work is still required to support the real lived issues of women in the workplace.
A Danish study found that having women on a board of directors increased sales by 17% and revenue by 54%, than when there were no women. In 2017, women were more likely than men to graduate with a first or upper second-class degree (77% vs 72%). Yet, why is it that only 3% of women have tech jobs as their first choice, only 26% of small business owners are women and three out of four companies in the UK pay their male employees more?
The Gender Gap
In April 2017, regulations were put in place for private, public and voluntary sector workplaces to report their gender wage gaps. Noncompliance to the request would be classed as failing to meet the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s standards, an act of lawbreaking. This was clearly a strong effort to hold the British workplace accountable for failing to meet gender equalities, and many companies scurried to meet the deadline. However, with so many filing their reports on the last day and some missing it completely, it makes one wonder how much big business actually cares about female equality today. Is it just an inconvenience?
The Second Shift
The second shift, otherwise known as the double burden, is a term used to describe the extensive work women carry out around their nine to five jobs, to support their families and partners. A 2016 study by the ONS found that women do an average of 26 hours unpaid work per week, 10 hours less than their male counterparts. Women simply spend more time cooking, cleaning and caring for family members and this is jeopardising their careers and equality.
While in the introduction of Shared Parental Leave created a more equal playing field for men and women starting families, it turns out that this isn’t really working in practice. Men are typically still being paid more, and so them taking the time off is a larger financial risk to the household income. Not enough societal support is given to fathers in this novel situation and the maternal instinct of women is proving that it’s harder to give up that special time than first thought. Admittedly, this policy is in its infancy compared to the long-term women at home tradition of bygone Edwardian eras. Encouraging more flexibility on the policy, and in parental leave in general, may drive its relevancy and uptake.
You would think that in 2018, that sexual harassment could be a thing of a past but sadly this isn’t the case. Stories of women cleaning toilets purely because they are women, benevolent sexism (read: mansplaining) and one in three women reporting sexual harassment at work prove that women still don’t have the same perceived rights as men. However, times are still changing and women are showing more positivity about their futures than ever before. A 2018 study by PwC found that 82% of women are confident in their ability to fulfill their career aspirations, but more transparency and trust are required for that to happen. We have come a long way since 1903, both in time of course and in learnings, but let’s agree that it shouldn’t take us over a hundred years more to figure out equality for all.