Gender Inequality and Women in the Workplace

The Big Story


Take a look around you on any given day and it won't take long to notice. Women don't have equal rights but there's one place where we find some of the more shocking examples that's at work statistics candidates with its latest numbers on the gender wage gap college and university graduates. Who are men earned more on average than their female counterparts worth eighty two percent of Canadian women viewed as over bearing if they had a strong opinion at work but on the flip side to that it's eighty seven percent felt men who expressed strong opinions at work are viewed as leaders and confident woman. Now hold twenty. Four percent of senior management positions globally. Those numbers are important because workplace. Equality is what's generally used to measure women's progress and the progress we've made can't be ignored but women still don't earn or own as much as their male counterparts and those positions at the very top of the power structure. Women rarely occupied them even when they do. The same challenges persist this is despite messages of empowerment being touted globally despite women being encouraged to have more confidence and to own their own careers. So what's stopping us from getting to the top and staying there? And how do we change it? I'm Stephanie Phillips in for Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story. Laurent mckeon is the author of no more nice girls a book about gender and power. An excerpt from her book recently appeared in the Walrus island so when we look at statistics of women in power in positions of power in Canada however we represented at the top Not Very well in fact in a lot of industries and spheres of public life We're not really represented at all and I think what makes it. Even more depressing is that you can see the disparity between representations sort of at the middle bottom where women are represented and then when we get to the top you know and they're not so for example thirty eight percent of all. Mba Students in Canada are women which is not parody but is okay but then when you look at Executive positions in Canada fewer than ten percent of women occupy those positions. So we start to see the disparity when we look at government has vote. We are represented among half of the voting population But then you get to the level of MP's for example we see that the number hovers around like twenty five thirty percent of most years and we look historically and only eleven percent of premiers in Canada. Have been women so you know it just once you get to the top. It's like where are we? We're not really there at all. So eleven percent. How many premieres is that actually? Eleven Eleven Hodel not even present so eleven total and the I was not elected until nineteen ninety one and one hundred and fifty years. Yeah those are kind of depressing numbers. So what happens when women do get to the top? Yeah I think we believe that wants women get to the top. You know. We're at the top and we will have the you know the power that we fought for for the C. O. You know we will run the company. People will listen to us. We'll stop having to deal with maybe all the B. S. that we dealt with When we were working our way up but that's not true. We have this idea of a glass ceiling and you know we shut her through it and then we are on the other side but we're not thinking about all the broken glass but still there once we shatter and in fact the stats. Here are pretty depressing. As well. We know that once women occupy the C. Suite their pickup actually widens to sixty eight cents For every dollar a man earns from I believe seventy eight or seventy nine so it. It dips earlier and on top of that. We also know that women like women. Ceo's are significantly more likely to be fired forty five percent more likely to be fired even when they're doing well like especially when they're doing well because it's like oh like well now's the time to get the white dude back in here like you know. Now we can You know really. Innovate and exciting. Again women are also far more likely to get hired when a company is in crisis. So it's forty percent of women are hired when a company is crisis versus twenty percent of men and we could say. Well that's great. That's because we trust women when companies in crisis but is actually a research shows that is actually because it's easier to blame women when things don't turn around and it's easier to replace them when they do so. There's this white savior effect where women people of color are often replaced by the white savior. Who Comes in and saves the company from you know the disaster that they put it in and it's all just smoke and mirrors to kind of maintain the power balances that were used to. Can you talk about more of the double standard between women and men when they're in the are in positions of power? Yeah a lot of women that I spoke to and and the research but you know women that spoke to feel that. They're kind of in the situation where they can't win. And it's sort of this double expectation Particularly when your power and the idea that you're supposed to be nice but not too nice and you're supposed to be you know a boss but not bossie or else you might get called another be word that is not as flattering You know they're supposed to be attractive but not too sexual authoritative but not mean and it kind of just swings back and forth until you're like well. What am I supposed to be like? You know I'm you can't win and you're left to follow this very narrow tightrope that is incredibly easy to fall off of. Yeah it's I think you described it as superhuman almost in your writing right yeah. It's the standards set like no one can live up to that. And you know we've found that when you inevitably don't live up to this impossible standard your judge so much more harshly Then men are in a working environment so I wanted to talk about the pedestrian bridge that collapsed at Florida International University. Can you can you tell me about a bit about that story? Yeah so it was a real story. Yes which and why emphasize that will become important in. Just a few seconds so in twenty eighteen other bridge collapsed and six people died and out of that real horrible incident Sort of this myth grew online until people believed it and it was the mid that an all women engineering team built the bridge and people created fake news actual fake news that spread and they cribbed all of these photos from the actual company that was responsible but from their international women's Day posts so they just pretended and made all these fake sites and links so that it looked like only women worked out the company. Wow and then a lot of people would say like well. That's what happens when you hire female engineers. No wonder they aren't in stem and it wasn't just on the Internet. I would hear this story repeated to me more than a year later or just regular people be like. That's not true. It's not what happened but it shows. I think the power of the kind of societal Gulab. That women are not competent in certain fields in particular he feels that are historically male dominated. I mean this is not the only time women have been blamed for something. That isn't their fault wire. Wire women the scapegoat when things go wrong. You know. I think that were just kind of we're primed for it in a lot of ways like as a society were primed to blame women. We blame mothers when kids do something bad and we you know wives when husbands. Do something bad you know. It's always the story of like well. What did she do to make him do that? You know that kind of a narrative that has persisted in politics and pop culture. You know we look back at history and literature. We're just so predisposed to do it when someone nudges us there we go the whole way. And then how does that play out for women? Who are in positions of power. What does that look like at the top were often really adverse to the idea of women in power and you know for a lot of people that I spoke to who you know started thinking about this or maybe changed the way. They approached power and leadership for them. A big moment in history was Hillary Clinton's loss and the polls expected that she was going to come out ahead. You know everyone thought it would be okay. Even though is seeing the herring that she took in the press and sort of the the hate that was happening on social media and and then you know she just became like this ultimate person. Who CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT? You know. It was criticized when she got emotional. She was criticized when she was powerful. Choose was criticized for what she was wearing issues to five hundred masculine and she wasn't perfect of course but she became This symbol for everything like we don't like about women in power and when they get to the top they topple you know they become such a target That people just work very hard to take them down right. So can you explain the he skilled? She's lucky phenomenon. Yeah there's this phenomenon that researchers I've done what you just said that he's skilled. She's lucky and is this tendency that we have to would may look at men and women empower you know and whether that's in a very public position or maybe just like in in our own small company were man's promoted or women has been promoted and we tend to fall back into these very stereotypical traditional narratives. Which are like well. He got there because he's so good at this one account or he really killed this project and of course he deserves to be there and if it's a woman we say well she's lucky is probably because she's attractive or you know she was really nice to the boss or like and it. Kinda just goes from there. But it's not just other people that follow this narrative women fall into this narrative. Allot to you'll hear and that's part of how the term got coined because you'll hear a lot of women. Researchers have heard a lot of women that they interviewed like. Ceo's people in powerful positions when they're asked how they got there. Just had this like really lucky break. I was really lucky to be in the right place at the right time and you know kind of fell my way when I got really lucky with this one piece of success we ha- we buy into the narrative to in it. It perpetuates it. Gotcha I WANNA get more into that in a bid but I. I don't want to ignore the intersection of race and gender here so what happens to a woman of color who has the same qualifications as an a woman with a so called white name? Who's applying for the same job right? Power is so layered and our perceptions of power and who deserves to be empower and who's skilled and not lucky really becomes more complicated

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