Gender Equality: A mirage?

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The Devil’s Advocate, serving you a cocktail of humour, wit and sarcasm

The knock on the door, I was anxiously waiting for, finally sounded. I rushed to the door and threw it open. There stood the plumber, holding the tool box in his hand. A male!. A bloke!. Oh man!

“Will I ever get to see a female plumber in my lifetime?” I quizzed the confused plumber. He just shrugged his shoulders and walked past me.

“Gender equality” is the new hot potato, these days, being shouted from building tops. So, what is gender equality? One definition is “the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender.”

But when a gender equality discussion is initiated, it always gets skewed to one side; that women are the “disadvantaged” and that men are standing in the way of women from getting access to opportunities.

These debates are largely led, not by women at large, but by one bunch of women called the “4th wave feminists” who still imagine that women in the Western world are living in a patriarchal and misogynistic society. If they take a quick trip to Saudi Arabia, that will open their blinkered eyes. LMAO

The main battleground for gender equality appears to be the workplace/jobs and the alleged pay gap. Curiously, the only two workplaces that are passionately debated in the media are the boardroom and parliament. The feminists are crying foul that even though women form 50% of the population, they are under-represented in parliament (around 32%) and in boardroom (around 30%). Bring on the quota system for women?

Here are a few hard questions for women in general and the raucous feminists out there, in particular:

1. Why are women not clamouring to get into professions that involve hard manual labour, long hours, dirty/risky/hostile work environments? Examples are plumbers, electricians, welders, carpenters, sewerage cleaners, trench diggers, mechanics, garbage collectors, truck drivers, cab drivers, removalists, miners, offshore drill riggers, bricklayers and many many more. Why are the feminists not demanding equal representation of women in these jobs? Why just boardrooms?

2. If there is a wage gap between men and women (this is a topic for another day), with women earning less than men, why are the greedy corporations not sacking men and employing women in large numbers?

3. Why are women cherry-picking the jobs they want to do and ignoring other highly-paid jobs that involve high risk, long hours, high workplace fatalities etc? Eg mining.

4. There are a number of professions in which women dominate. Find below a graphical representation from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 census.

For example, in the nursing profession, 90% workers are women. Why are feminists silent on this and not striving to restore gender equality in these professions? Why are feminists not picketing outside hospitals, demanding for men to be included in the nursing profession, if they indeed are fighting for gender equality?

5. Why are men not taking to the streets (unlike women) to protest against the gender discrimination in these women-dominated professions?

6. Do women (or men) have a choice not to work? Do women really want equality? According to new research conducted by Dr Joanna Bourke of Birkbeck College, London, a majority of women has always wanted to work in the home rather than take up paid employment. A recent Gallup survey in UK found that two out of three mothers today would prefer to stay at home if they could afford to.

7. Why are housewives/homemakers the target of the feminists? Is it because they stay at home and appear to serve patriarchy? Why is there a social stigma attached to being a housewife?

8. Shouldn’t merit, and not the gender, be the only criterion for awarding the job to the best person?

9. Again, guilty of repeating myself, why are jobs being cherry-picked by women for gender equality demands, why are not ALL jobs considered for 50:50 participation and why women-dominated professions are ignored in the debate?

Indra Nooyi, India-born PepsiCo’s female CEO, who recently stepped down from her CEO position, says that she has realised that there is life beyond working. “For 40 years, I have done nothing but wake up at 4 am and figured out how to rush to work and work 18-20 hours a day,” she said in an interview. Is this the kind of life we are aspiring to, slaving away for a corporation, 20 hours a day? It’s no wonder 1% of the world population holds 50% of the total wealth & Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thinks that “work-life balance” is a debilitating phrase.

Back in the Stone Age, when homo sapiens were evolving, there was a division of labour between males and females of the species. They lived in a hunter-gatherer society in which the men hunted and the women gathered. The women would gather seeds, nuts, wild plants, cook, make clothes, take care of their children and stay in the safety of the caves. The men, on the other hand, would invent tools and hunt wild animals for the families and many a times they would become the hunted and end up as dinner for wild animals. This allocation of tasks between men and women worked very well and enabled everyone to survive in a very difficult time of human evolution. Fortunately, there were no feminists in the Stone Age, who could have jeopardised the evolution process and made the human race extinct, by demanding equal hunting rights for women. Imagine caveman and cavewoman getting gobbled up by the sabre-toothed tiger on their joint hunting trip. LOL

Is gender equality about women wanting to be the hunter and not the gatherer? If so, there is some good news for the female hunter. We are witnessing the rise in the phenomenon of the “house husband”. These are men that have been in the rat race for a long time and finally got burnt out. They prefer to stay at home and happy to carry out the traditional “women chores”. New research reveals that 200,000 British men now stay home to look after the children while their partners go out to work. This trend is picking up in the patriarchal societies such as Japan and in India, as well. This should be a welcome change for the female hunter, to experience for herself, first hand, the dangers lurking in the concrete jungle. You go girl!

The phrase, “Work is killing you” is quite true. According to Gallup’s World Poll, after polling millions of employees from nearly 200 countries, 85% percent of workers worldwide admit to hating their jobs. Workplace stress has been shown to have causal links to a wide range of health conditions such as anxiety, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, gastrointestinal disorders etc. that contribute to early death and other health and mental health problem.

We hate our jobs, it is killing us and yet we are like moths to a flame? In this regard, it may be the right thing to do, to encourage gender equality at work, so that the men and women can share the negative consequences of work, equally between them.

There is a strong push from governments, feminists and corporations to get women to break into “male-dominated” areas such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths), construction etc. “monopolised” by men.(No such efforts exist to assist men in participating in women-dominated professions). In this context, it is important to take note of the “Gender Equality Paradox”. Susan Pinker, in her book The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women, and the Real Gender Gap, says that even though there’s an overall female advantage (more women are graduating from schools and universities than men), it doesn’t translate to work partly because of the different career and lifestyle preferences women go on to develop, by following different career trajectories.

In the Netherlands, one of the most “gender-equality” countries, the vast majority of people who choose to work part-time are women. Around 62% of the women who work part-time don’t even have children at home. They work part-time because they have other priorities in their lives—their relationships, their friends, their outside interests.

Paradoxically, as a society becomes more egalitarian, the gender gap in occupational choice becomes wider, not narrower. A study published in Psychological Science, found that the more gender equal a country was (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland etc), the fewer women ultimately took up STEM paths in college.

A serious threat that will blow the gender equality debate out of the water and make it irrelevant is the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and automation of jobs. A report compiled by McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2030 as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation. One in three Australian jobs are at risk of being automated by the year 2030, according to research from labour market experts Adzuna. A study by World Economic Forum also predicts that the majority of jobs to be destroyed by automation belong to women (nearly 60%)

Will we end up in a “Mad Max” kind of world, in which men and women are at each other’s throats, fighting for the shrinking pool of jobs?

On a lighter note, my friend, the conspiracy theorist, thinks that there is a conspiracy by the governments to increase the labour pool by encouraging women participation so that more taxes can be collected and by the corporations to increase the size of the labour market to create a labour oversupply so that wages can be kept low.

Men and women are fundamentally different in a number of ways, besides their genitalia: physically, mentally, emotionally, biologically, intellectually etc. with their own strengths and weaknesses. It may be a futile exercise to find equality. It’s like comparing apples with oranges.

When the Titanic was sinking, the women were given the first preference to be saved. The men were left behind to die. The men who tried to jump the queue were shot at. How will the Gender Equality world handle the next Titanic disaster?


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

 

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