08 March 2011

Gender Equality: An Obsolete Concept?

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. It's a day for focusing on equality for women in this world.

A lot of my friends (okay, Caucasian males) comment that we don't need these kinds of focuses anymore. They think the world is fair enough. Well, if that's the case, then we should find equality is drastically better than it was 20 years ago, right?

Not in the movies. In 2009, women directed 7 per cent of the top-grossing films, the same amount as in 1989. After Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar last year for best director, I expected to see women nominated again this year. Especially with two Best Picture films that were directed by women. I was disappointed that there were none.

Well then, at least Canada is an example of gender equality for the world to follow, right? According to IndexMundi.com, the Canadian sex ratio (males/females) is 0.98, so we're almost evenly divided men to women. And don't forget:
"Canada was among the first countries to sign Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines the principles of gender equality in employment, public life, and education in Part I, section 15. These principles are also reflected in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the 1998 Multiculturalism Act, which introduced measures to protect and promote the rights of aboriginal women and foreigners." Wikigender.org
So how does Canada measure up?

I checked with the World Economic Forum, which selects the top countries in terms of gender equity by comparing 1) income and employment, 2) participation in higher education, 3) health, and 4) political involvement. Here's the top 15 countries for 2010:


Wait, where's Canada?

We're 20th. Out of 134 countries, we came in 20th. Not bad, but not great for a country that prides itself on being the vanguard for human rights and peacekeeping.

So where does Canada excel? Umm... socialism.
"One bright spot in terms of women’s equality is in the results found for women who work in unionized environments. Women make 82% of men’s incomes in such environments – even when comparing full time, full year employment. When assessing the impact of unionization, the study reveals that non-unionized environments create a wider gender gap – women make only 72% of men’s incomes in such environments." Center for Social Justice
"Women aged 25 to 29 employed on a full-time, full-year basis earned 85 cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts in 2005.
In 2005, the gender income gap was narrower for those new entrants that had achieved higher levels of education than for their less-educated counterparts:
  • Women aged 25 to 29 holding a graduate or professional diploma and working on a full-time, full-year basis earned 96 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2005.

  • Women with a bachelor’s degree earned 89 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

  • Women with a registered apprenticeship or trades certificate earned only 65 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

  • Young women with no high school diploma earned 67 cents for every dollar earned by young men with the same level of education.

For the most highly educated Canadian women, gender differences in earnings within identical occupations are generally very small among new entrants to the labour force... Two exceptions are management occupations and sales and service occupations, where Canadian women consistently earn far less than their male counterparts. Young women employed in management occupations earned 86 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2005. In sales and service occupations, the gap was even larger, at 72 cents for every dollar. Canadian women continue to be overrepresented in low-paying occupations in Canada." Conference Board of Canada
Wait, so women making at least 20 per cent less than men is pretty good? Awesome. And where are we failing?
"Statistics Canada's 1998 report Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, which analysed data provided by 154 reporting police agencies, shows that:
  • Women continue to outnumber men nine to one as victims of assault by a spouse or partner;
    in 1996 half of all family homicides involved spouses;

  • Between 1977 and 1996, three times as many women were killed by their spouses as were men killed by their spouses;

  • Girls are at greatest risk of sexual assault by a family member while between 12 and 15 years of age;

  • In 1996 nine of ten crimes committed against older adults by family members were physical assaults.
Violence is a major factor in women's health and well-being. The measurable health-related costs of violence against women in Canada exceed $1.5 billion a year. These costs include short-term medical and dental treatment for injuries, long-term physical and psychological care, lost time at work, and use of transition homes and crisis centres" Health Canada
Oh, and Canadian women have only 22% representation in government. And that's an all-time record.

So when I hear my friends say that they're pissed off that women and visible minorities get special programs and scholarships, I sort of want to punch them in the stomach. Not in the nuts. That's sexist. But hard. In the stomach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One reason that women make less than men is because women might work, not work, go back to school, take time off to have a baby, might come back after, might not come back after, etc, etc.

Many employers don't want to pay the same amount for someone who might get pregnant, take a month or two off and then just decide not to return one day.