|With Covid-19 prevention measures implemented in many countries, job loss has been devastating. / Photo by Blue Planet Studio via Shutterstock|
Gender equality is achieved when men and women enjoy the same opportunities and rights across all industries of society and when the different aspirations, needs, and behaviors of men and women are equally favored and valued.
While many countries have already recognized the importance of gender equality to achieve a peaceful society, nonpartisan think tank Pew Research Center's survey found that at least four in 10 people think that men have more opportunities than women to get high paying jobs. Across 34 countries surveyed, this means that a median of 54% of people see advantages for men should jobs become scarce in the country.
Gender equality and global unemployment
With Covid-19 prevention measures implemented in many countries, job loss has been devastating. In the US alone, 30 million have applied for unemployment insurance and economists think that there are likely more people without jobs that are not yet captured by the data. Now that millions are unemployed and many think men have more opportunities for high-paying jobs, women may end up less optimistic about gender equality in their country.
The majority of European countries, as well as in the United States, Australia, Israel, South Korea, and Japan, think men have more opportunities to get high-paying jobs.
A median of 56% also disagree with the belief that men should have preferential treatment when jobs in the country are scarce and 40% agree that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce. In almost all Latin American, Western European, and North American countries surveyed, also in Japan, the Czech Republic, Israel, Lithuania, Hungary, and Australia, the majority of people do not believe that men should have preferential treatment than women in times of economic difficulties.
|The United Nations previously noted that girls and women represent half of the global population. / Photo by bbernard via Shutterstock|
Gender equality in leadership
The Pew Research Center survey also found that a median of 44% think that men have better opportunities than women when it comes to being leaders in their communities, especially in Slovakia, France, Greece, Tunisia, Lebanon, Italy, Turkey, Israel, South Korea, Japan, and Nigeria. More than half of them believe that men have more opportunities to be leaders. This is highlighted in Germany, France, Australia, UK, the US, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Canada, where about eight in 10 or more people in the respective countries reject that men should have preferential treatment for job opportunities.
On the other hand, majorities of countries in Africa and the Asia-Pacific, including India, Philippines, Lebanon, Turkey, and Indonesia, think that men should have a better right to jobs than women when job opportunities are scarce. About eight in 10 in India and Tunisia share this view.
Educational attainment related to gender equality views
A median of 31% believe that men have more opportunities in expressing their views and 81% believe that both men and women in their country have the same opportunities in getting a good education.
Out of the 26 countries surveyed, those with more education are likely to believe that it is important for women to also have the same rights as men. The Czech Republic and Lithuania are two countries with the biggest differences in this area. Seventy-six percent of those in Lithuania and 87% in the Czech Republic hold this view. 10 percentage points or more in educational differences were also observed in Nigeria, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea, Bulgaria, and Italy.
The survey also shows that few people believe that women have a better life than men although many expect their country to be equal. Majorities in Turkey, the US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Spain, France, Netherlands, and Australia said that men have a better life than women in their country. But the opposite can be observed in Nigeria, where a majority (51%) of men are more likely to say that men are better off than women (42%).
The United Nations, an intergovernmental organization, previously noted that girls and women represent half of the global population. Therefore, half of the world’s potential should be given to women. It believes that a country empowering women prompts economic growth and productivity but, unfortunately, much is still needed to achieve full equality of opportunities and rights between men and women.
Global gender gap
In a Global Gender Gap Report 2020 published by the World Economic Forum, among the top countries that have closed at least 80% of their gender gaps are Nordics. First is Iceland with a gender gap index of 0.877, followed by Norway (0.842), Finland (0.832), Sweden (0.820), Nicaragua (0.804), New Zealand (0.799), Ireland (0.798), Spain (0.795), Rwanda (0.791), and Germany (0.787). The World Economic Forum said that the overall gender gap performance is a combination of performances across these dimensions: political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment, and economic participation.
Women are “severely under-represented” in the area of political empowerment, the report finds. Only 25% of the gap in this subindex has been closed and no country has fully closed the gap yet. Iceland managed to close approximately 70% of its political empowerment gap. The presence of women is most widespread in Iceland’s parliament, heads of states, and ministries compared to other countries. Norway is 10 percentage points away from Iceland in terms of political empowerment gap but is still four times higher compared to the global average. In terms of the educational attainment gap, approximately 96.1% of it has already been closed.
To determine whether professions in different countries are over- or under-utilizing the talent pool for future professions, the research also highlights women’s participation in different professional clusters. It reveals that 88% of the workforce specializing in cloud computing are male while 12% are female. In Engineering, 85% are male, 15% female. Other professional clusters where the share of men is high are Data and Artificial Intelligence (74% men, 26% women), product development (65%, 35%), sales (63%, 37%), and marketing (60%, 40%). On the other hand, there are more women in content production.
The report highlights that although there are many gender equality efforts focused on the future skills for women and girls, there is less attention given in creating incentives for women and girls to enroll in STEM education or create a path for them to be hired in the highest-growth roles applying their STEM skills.
The gender issue is not just a social issue but a business imperative. Nordic countries that have higher workforce participation rates for women also show how their economy has benefited in the past few years.