Inequality is an enemy of human dignity and progress. Inequality exists in a full range of forms in all societies across the world. The most serious forms include racial/ethnic inequality, income inequality, gender inequality, healthcare access inequality, and age inequality, but there also exist a vast array or other forms of inequality.
On average, American women earn less than their male peers. Highly educated women fare worst of all.
A Wall Street Journal examination of pay in 446 major occupations found that women in many elite jobs earn well below men, with professions such as doctors, compensation managers and personal financial advisers among those showing the widest earnings gaps. (See an interactive graphic exploring the pay gap across 446 occupations)
The biggest gaps in many white-collar professions don’t easily lend themselves to legislative remedies. In fact, the Journal’s findings belie policy makers’ hope that the most-educated women would lead the way in shrinking the gap. Currently, more women than men graduate from college.
Wage transparency—requiring employers to report salary data—is “just not going to move the needle much,” says Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University economics professor and one of the country’s foremost scholars on gender and pay. Prof. Goldin found in a 2010 paper that men and women earned almost the same salaries right after receiving University of Chicago M.B.A.s. At least a decade after graduating, the women earned 57% of their male classmates.
The main factor, she and her co-authors concluded: Women became mothers, interrupted their careers and eschewed lengthy hours that generated higher paychecks. “These particular occupations,” Prof. Goldin says, “are not very forgiving of taking time off and having kids.”
The Journal’s analysis of Census Bureau data for the five years through 2014 found male doctors working full time earned about $210,000 annually on average. Female physicians made 64% of that, about $135,000 a year. Among personal financial advisers, men took in about $100,000 while women made about $62,000.
Many white-collar jobs give substantially larger financial rewards to those logging the longest hours and who job-hop often, phenomena that limit white-collar women who pull back for child-rearing. Researchers on the topic say ingrained workplace cultures also impede women’s earnings.
The gender pay gap has become a big issue in corporate boardrooms, state capitols and the 2016 presidential campaign. Executives and policy makers are weighing ways to bridge it, with ideas such as limiting employers from asking about salary histories and attempting to require wage transparency.
In elite tiers of business, employees aren’t seen as interchangeable and therefore earn premiums for working longer hours. “You work more hours, you work crazy hours, and you get not crazy-amount more—you get crazy-amount-squared more,” Prof. Goldin said in one lecture on the topic.
Women with bachelor’s degrees or higher earned 76% of their male peers in that group in 2014, according to the Labor Department. Women with less than a high-school diploma working full time earned 79% of male peers.
In some professions, such as pharmacists, Prof. Goldin says, there is greater pay parity because employers more easily substitute one worker for another.
Less-educated workers are also generally more interchangeable and often have less room to move up the pay scale, economists say, helping explain why those without college degrees have a narrower gender pay gap today.
That is a reversal from a generation ago. In 1980, female college graduates earned 68% of their male peers, while women who hadn’t graduated from high school earned 61% of theirs.
Factors narrowing the gap more quickly between blue-collar men and women haven’t all been happy. Much of it comes from the fact that those men lost ground when manufacturing jobs moved overseas and unionized work dried up. Between 1981 and 2011, the percentage of men covered by collective-bargaining agreements was cut in half, while women’s coverage fell only slightly, according to Cornell University economics professors Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn.
The Journal analyzed Census Bureau earnings data for full-time year-round workers from 2010 through 2014. Across occupations, women made 79% of men on average. A Labor Department measure pegs the rate at 83% for 2014. Both include a slightly younger pool of workers than the education-specific figures.
Lag in finance
Of the 10 major occupation groups where women’s earnings lagged most, five were in finance.
Among personal financial advisers, who had the fifth-highest gap of any major profession, men outnumber women more than two to one. That imbalance prompted CFP Board, a national nonprofit group that certifies financial planners, to probe what it dubbed the profession’s “feminine famine.”
Its 2014 report found women were more likely to take guaranteed income instead of the greater payouts and risks that came with heavily commission-based jobs or owning their own firms. They had less experience than men in the field and were younger.
After the research controlled for experience, practice size and practice ownership, the women earned about $32,000 a year less on average, according to the study of more than 500 financial advisers. An advisory panel concluded gender discrimination and bias were among factors dissuading women.
“A male friend told me I had several strikes against me,” Lauren Lindsay, a financial planner at a firm in Covington, La., says she told the report’s author, “I was female, Yankee and not a great golfer.”
Cornell’s Prof. Blau, who began researching gender pay disparities in the 1970s, has analyzed wage data isolating the role of education, experience, occupation concentrations and other variables. She and Prof. Kahn estimate that about half the gap stems from women being more heavily clustered in lower-paying jobs and industries—not that they are paid less for identical work. Around one-sixth comes from men being on the job longer.
Just over one-third of the gap, she says, is from factors that can’t easily be pinned down, including potential discrimination. She says the true impact of discrimination could be lower, because her calculation lumps in other intangible variables, or higher because it doesn’t account for how discrimination may keep women from entering lucrative male-dominated fields.
Among those unmeasurable forces is that women are less likely than men to angle for higher pay, research shows.
Bettina Deynes, 43, a human-resources vice president in Alexandria, Va., says she didn’t negotiate a higher salary for her first five jobs in that industry. “I was always so thrilled to get the jobs that were offered,” she says, “that salary was a second thought.”
Before interviewing for her sixth job, as a city human-resources director, she sought negotiating tips and studied municipal-salary levels by digging through public tax filings. The city offered $130,000 a year; she countered with $140,000 and got it.
Among reporters, correspondents and news analysts nationwide, the Journal’s analysis of census data found women were paid 86% of men.
The union that represents Journal reporters and other workers at the paper’s publisher, Dow Jones & Co., in March released an analysis that says unionized women at Dow Jones earn about 87% of men. “We believe this is a problem, one that’s existed far too long,” says Tim Martell, executive director of the union. Dow Jones Chief Executive William Lewis told employees in emails that any pay disparity relating to gender is troubling and said the company has started reviewing compensation programs.
The doctor gap
The Journal’s analysis found physicians had the 11th-highest gender wage gap of major professions. Researchers say some of that comes from women’s greater concentration in lower-paying specialties such as pediatrics, while men are more prevalent in lucrative areas such as orthopedics.
Anthony LoSasso, a University of Illinois at Chicago health-policy professor, tracked starting salaries of physicians leaving New York state residency programs over a decade. Their choice of specialty, number of hours worked and structure of their employment didn’t account for the men’s earning $16,819 a year more than the women in 2008.
Nor did his theory pan out, in later research, that women were trading pay for jobs with more flexibility and fewer nights and weekends. Prof. LoSasso has yet to find a reason for the gap.
“I continue to be befuddled,” he says.
Family doctor Anne Montgomery saw her pay lag at various points in her career as she made trade-offs for her family. The 55-year-old, who runs a family-medicine residency program in Rancho Mirage, Calif., cut back to 80% of full time early on so she could care for her son.
“I actually pretty much worked full time my whole career,” the M.B.A. holder says. “I only got paid for part time.”
By 2009, she was earning $170,000 a year as a full-time faculty physician in Spokane, Wash. At that job, she was delighted to get an about $30,000 raise but irked it only brought her more in line with a newly hired male colleague who had aggressively negotiated.
Her husband of 12 years, family physician Glen Stream, had a smoother climb up the income ladder. He negotiated his pay as he ascended to earn a $275,000 base salary as chief medical-information officer of a Spokane multispecialty group. In 2012, his earnings approached $400,000 when he drew $190,000 as the American Academy of Family Physicians’ president plus three-fourths of his executive salary.
Last year, Dr. Montgomery earned $303,000, while Dr. Stream, 59, made $364,000 treating patients in California and running a national health-system improvement project. This year, the couple expects earnings to be about $360,000 each.
“I made choices that a man wouldn’t have been expected to make,” Dr. Montgomery says. “To get back up to speed takes awhile.”
Wage transparency hasn’t closed a particularly wide gap for the very people who set salaries in the workplace. Female compensation and benefits managers earn about $71,000 a year on average, or 68% of men’s about $104,000 annual average, despite outnumbering men more than three to one in the field, the Journal’s analysis found.
“We’re talking about the subset of the working world that has exponentially more access to salary data,” says Kerry Chou, a senior practice leader at WorldatWork, a human-resources association in Scottsdale, Ariz. “And still,” he says, “we have this gap.”
The Obama administration says lagging salaries and a dearth of family-friendly policies are exacerbating an outflow of women from the workforce, which is weighing on economic growth. “We’re leaving money on the table,” says Labor Department Chief Economist Heidi Shierholz, “as a country that could be providing crucial economic activity.”
The White House says large employers next year must provide salary data by race and gender, part of the Democrats’ push for wage transparency designed to spotlight unequal pay and spur employers to correct it. About 20 states are weighing equal-pay legislation, including a push to help women avoid being underpaid in new jobs by curbing employers’ ability to ask job applicants about their earnings histories.
Among the 2016 presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton wants to prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who size up their pay with colleagues, among other things.
Republican Donald Trump’s campaign hasn’t addressed the issue formally. Asked if he would support equal pay for women, he said in October in New Hampshire: “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.”
Top Republicans have stressed that current law makes it illegal for employers to pay women less for equal work. “Women should receive equal pay for equal work, and while we have made progress, there is more work to do,” says Republican National Committee spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.
Economists and policy makers say a range of changes is needed to lift women’s pay across occupations, including expanding paid family leave and creating more affordable child-care options.
For top-tier workers, flexible schedules and making workers more interchangeable may have the biggest impact, economists say. More men need to take the paid paternity leave that is increasingly being offered by large employers since it helps women stay in the workforce. Research shows that having men shoulder more unpaid housework such as cooking and cleaning could also help unleash women’s earning power.
Novel solutions are playing out locally. In September, Boston began offering free salary-negotiation workshops to every woman in the city, with the goal of training 85,000 women in five years. About 1,000 women have participated.
This week’s report by IFS illuminates the persistence of the gender pay gap. It highlights that women in paid work receive about 18 per cent less per hour than men, with the gap widening consistently for 12 years after a first child is born, by which point women receive a staggering 33 per cent less pay per hour than men. Women over 40 are most affected.
The gender pay gap is an important lens through which to understand the day to day incomes of women in the UK. It also represents another barrier to women being able to save adequately for a comfortable later life. The average net income of female pensioners per week is approximately 85 per cent of their male counterparts and over two thirds of pensioners living in poverty are women.
We know that women, particularly those in mid-life, take more career breaks for childcare or other caring responsibilities and are more likely to be in part time work. All these factors impact on women’s ability to remain in paid work, re-enter the labour market, keep paying National Insurance and save for later life. All of which means that many women are more likely to be reliant on the State Pension as their main form of retirement income.
Wider trends in the lives of women in the UK will influence income and family support in later life. Today’s ONS data reported declining birth rates amongst UK born women, with increases for women born outside of the UK. More women are ageing without children. Divorce and separation are on the increase amongst older generations and women more commonly outlive their male partners. These factors may contribute to middle aged women’s risk of poverty in retirement.
So what needs to happen? If a large part of the gender pay gap is caused by a concentration of women in part-time work and the fact that they do the lion’s share of unpaid caring, then some of the solutions lie here. A Women and Equalities Select Committee report earlier this year proposed making all jobs flexible by default from the outset and creating a national scheme to support women to get back into work. The Committee also recommended new industrial strategies on productivity and pay in low paid, highly feminised sectors (such as care).
Government can lead the way but employers can do a lot more to help carers stay in work and manage the impact of caring on their finances and plan for later life. They need to understand how many carers they employ; develop and implement a carers policy; train line managers and help them support carers.
Gender pay inequality is not just today’s bad news story – if not resolved it will add yet another layer of disadvantage for women in later life.’
Claire Turner is Director of Evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better
Fatoumatah Bah is cornered. Sitting in front of a tinsel-ringed mirror in Miskaa Salon, her head is bent forward, two women at work braiding twists into her hair. She will be stuck in the chair for at least three hours.
It is a good moment to pounce. Fatoumatah Kamara, 20, an apprentice hairdresser in a matching skirt and blouse and glinting cherry earrings, sidles up to Bah. She starts to make conversation.
At first, it is the usual hairdresser chatter. What rain we’ve been having, eh? Where are you from? What are you up to this weekend? This is the 20-year-old accountancy student’s second visit to the salon in Guinea’s capital, Conakry.
Soon Kamara’s questions become more personal. Does Bah have a husband? A boyfriend? Then she goes in for the kill. Does she know there are ways of avoiding getting pregnant?
With every manicure, pedicure and hairdo at the Miskaa Salon, clients receive a free treatment: a great deal of contraceptive advice.
Five salons across Conakry have been dispensing family planning advice since 2012, and they have been so successful that the project – the brainchild of Jhpiego, a health organisation associated with Johns Hopkins University in the US – is about to be extended to salons in Guinea’s seven major cities.
In Guinea, which has one of the lowest rates of modern contraceptive use in the world, women have an average of five children. According to UN figures, in 2015 only 7.5% of married or cohabiting women use some form of contraception.
A lot of effort has gone into teaching women in rural Guinea about family planning, but not so much in urban areas. A salon is an excellent place to reach them, so long as it is the right kind of salon.
“It’s better to go where they do braids because that’s what women traditionally want,” says Yolande Hyjazi, Jhpiego’s director in Guinea. “A woman who’s straightening or washing her hair has more money and more access to information.”
Across town from Miskaa, Jumelle Coiffure is trying to turn around clients as fast as possible, largely because the room is impossibly cramped. Jumelle is owned by 32-year-old twins Tata Sylla, wearing a short black and bright green wig, and her sister Mbalia, with long, heavy braids.
“There were a lot of young women getting pregnant around here when they didn’t want to, with lots of kids running after them, and I thought it would be good to teach them how to avoid that. Even my apprentices were getting pregnant,” says Mbalia, making up Aminata Kouma’s face just inside the salon door. Outside, a dozen girls huddle under the dripping overhang of the salon’s tin roof, filing fingernails and tugging at each other’s hair.
An apprentice hairdresser at the Jumelle salon in Conakry shows a client different family planning methods. Photograph: Kate Holt
Kouma, 35, says she first heard about family planning at Jumelle.
“I never knew about this before coming here – they taught me how,” she said. “I got the injection, and since then I’ve been able to control the number of children I have. I already have four and I don’t want any more. My husband can’t afford it, school fees are so high. There’s too much suffering here. I’m a housemaid, but I’m out of work.”
Each salon has an army of apprentices, some of whom have worked in them for years, to cope with the intensity of the work and the number of clients. Jhpiego deliberately chose very popular salons to reach as many people as possible, and trained some of their apprentices as community health workers, to explain how to use exclusive breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy, talk about implants, sell pills and write referrals. They earn half the sale price for any pills and condoms they sell.
The trial started in 2013, but everything had to stop for the Ebola outbreak. Like all health organisations, Jhpiego had to turn its efforts to fighting Ebola. In any case, women were not going to the salon.
It is now back in full swing, though, and tailors’ shops are the next target. “There are women that wait around all day for their dresses, trying them on,” Hyjazi said. “People are being social, hanging around. But in the tailors’ shops we also have a lot of young men. Reaching men is important.”
The idea is that clients of both establishments will talk to their friends, and word will spread.
At Miskaa, a large wedding party is getting ready.
Apprentice hairdressers cluster around each client, carefully painting on long, black eyebrows, blow-drying hair straight, and making minute adjustments to towering, shiny headwraps.
Kamara, pointing at her laminated booklet, has just finished explaining how to use a string of beads to track fertility. But it isn’t new to Bah.
“I go on Google, I go on YouTube, I find information,” she says. “But not everybody is a student like me.”
She knew about condoms and pills, but not the other methods Kamara talks about. Young people have far more access to information than previous generations, and sex is slowly becoming something that is more talked about.
Young men who have come to Miskaa Salon for cut price condoms are shown how to use them correctly by apprentice hairdresser Nene Diakité. Photograph: Kate Holt
Traditionally, a Guinean woman would space out her children by leaving her husband and going back to her mother’s house for a few years, every time she had a baby.
“Now no one is using abstinence, so everyone is using contraceptives, but no one is talking about it,” Hyjazi says. “Many people think that if a women is using contraceptives, it’s because she has another partner. There’s not a lot of open communication – even between a husband and wife using them. Many women will use the pill without telling their husbands.”
One thing is unlikely to change, though, and according to Hyjazi, it is skewing the statistics, because people doing surveys do not always do them in private. “If a woman is asked if she’s using contraceptives and her mother or mother-in-law is there, she’ll never say yes.”
The wedding party is almost ready. Kamara looks over each woman carefully before opening the door for them. In a few hours, they have become more glamorous and, thanks to Kamara, more contraceptive-savvy.
“I like making women beautiful – that’s why I work here,” says Kamara, already looking around for her next quarry.
Tinalbaraka Amano has done well to adapt to life in the desert. Three years ago, the 16-year-old had her own room in a suburban house in Mali’s capital, Bamako. She had school friends with middle-class aspirations and Snapchat. At Mbera refugee camp in southern Mauritania, she sleeps in a tent with her parents. Before bed, she has to shake her sleeping mat for scorpions. The neighbours are mostly nomads who have never been online or in a classroom.
“Many of the girls get married – often they are younger than 12,” says Tinalbaraka, who is from a family of musicians. She has just sat her ninth-year exams. Her class of 54 pupils included only 15 girls. “That is how it is. When they get married, their parents or their husbands do not want them to stay on at school. Anyway, they have babies so it is not possible.”
The 42,000 residents of Mbera camp are dealing with a crisis among their bored youth. Agencies here warn that if the needs of 14,000 school-age residents are not addressed through education and training, boys will be tempted to join armed groups and more girls will be at risk of early marriage.
Situated 50km inside Mauritania, Mbera is one of the biggest refugee camps in sub-Saharan Africa, home mainly to Tuareg and Arab Malians. They are blamed by southern black Malians for the killing – Islamic terror, clan feuding and armed banditry – that began in 2012 and has brought the country to its knees.
Two peace deals signed last year between the Malian government and armed groups (excluding al-Qaida) have increased pressure on the camp, says Taleb Bouya Abdallah, an emergency education officer for the UN children’s agency, Unicef. “When peace was declared, funding fell away. It does not matter how many peace deals are signed, or repatriation agreements are made; as long as it is not safe for people to return to Mali, they won’t,” he said.
According to UN figures, 55% of girls in Mali and 34% in Mauritania are married before the age of 18.
It happened – twice – to 16-year-old Nafissa* from Léré, in the Timbuktu region. Married at 12 to her cousin, she faced so much violence from him that her widowed mother returned 50,000 CFA francs (£64) of the dowry in the hope of a divorce. But when Nafissa and her mother moved to Mbera in 2013, he followed them. He raped her and she gave birth to a boy, Mohamed, who is now 18 months old. Then, Nafissa began having epileptic fits.
The local branch of humanitarian agency Intersos and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, raised the money to pay back the balance of the dowry – 250,000 ouguiyas (£535) – and applied to a judge for a restraining order against Nafissa’s husband, which was granted. The family then found a second husband for her, but he walked out, blaming harassment from the first husband.
“I lie in bed and I cannot sleep because I am so worried that [my first husband] is going to come back,” says Nafissa, who lives with Mohamed and her mother. “The neighbours look out for him, and when he comes someone runs to the gendarmerie. But by the time the gendarmes arrive, he has usually left.
“I have pain in my hip from when he kicked me,” says Nafissa, who has never been to school because “there was too much housework”.
Houleye Diawara, 23, a social work graduate employed at Intersos’s gender-based violence drop-in centre, says Nafissa’s family need material help, counselling, medical care and protection. “A psychologist comes from Nouakchott every other month. It is not enough. There are so many traumatised women in the camp. No one here really has the qualifications or the experience to help her fully. We would like to find a trade for Nafissa – maybe sewing – and give her training, but we are short of funds.”
Abdallah says early marriage is recurrent and unchanging. “There is a real need to explain to parents what school is for. They also need to be told about the health dangers linked to early marriage. Unlike in Mali, education is free in the camp so this is a good place to start.”
Unicef says 6,000 children who had never been to school have attended literacy classes at Mbera since 2013. The camp offers accelerated teaching for illiterate older children who are too old to learn alongside six-year-olds.
But Abdallah says the teenagers need vocational training. “Because of the high cost, we have only managed to train 240 of them in a trade. Boredom is the worst possible thing. It can lead them astray, into drugs or, in the case of boys, into the armed groups.”
Only 5,000 of Mbera’s 14,000 school-age residents attend the camp’s six primary schools. Secondary school attendance is disastrously low. There are only 220 pupils, of whom 51 are girls. Only a quarter of the teachers are qualified, and the retention rate is low. Teachers’ monthly salaries of 55,000 ouguiyas are roughly a third of those offered by NGOs in the camp.
Tinalbaraka is looking forward to the new school year. She is convinced her musician father, Abdallah Ag Amano, will allow her to study to baccalaureate level and beyond. She is part of a drama group that stages sketches about school life; she believes life in the camp does, at least, allow some girls to acquire basic literacy. “Being here means some of the [nomadic] children experience school for the first time. In the camp, girls have fewer domestic responsibilities than when they are in Mali.”
Asked if she worries about being married off against her will, she says: “I am not afraid it will happen to me. My parents will let me do what I want.”
*Some names have been changed to protect identities
Alex Duval Smith travelled to Mauritania with the EU, which supports projects at Mbera camp
“For myself I feel excited about the opportunities I have, but I am concerned that there’s not more female directors,” the actress told the magazine while discussing her upcoming film “Knight of Cups.” “I think that the conversation has definitely become more widespread which is very important, but the problem is just as severe, actually probably more severe because it’s been so long that it hasn’t changed. There’s a long ways to go but it’s great that we’re having the conversation.”
Portman’s comments fall in line with reports that the actor insisted on securing a female director for the upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic before she signed on to the project. The Supreme Court justice spoke about Portman’s decisionin conversation with California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu at last year’s American Constitution Society convention.
“Natalie Portman came to talk to me about this, and we had a very good conversation,” Ginsburg said. “And one thing interesting that she insisted on, it held up the project for a while. She said, ‘I want the director to be a woman. There are not enough women in this industry. There are many talented [women] out there.’ And now they do have a woman director.”
It’s 2016 and women are represented in nearly every profession. The wage gap narrowed to less than 5 percent, according to one analysis in The Wall Street Journal, after accounting for various factors such as hours worked and career choice.
Has society overcome a history of gender bias and discrimination in the workplace?
The women of Silicon Valley say no.
Gender equality in the workplace requires more than just the “equal pay for equal work” that President Obama called for in his recent State of the Union address. Research has found that women more frequently face limitations and even harassment in the workplace than men realize.
And sexual discrimination and harassment are not just happening to secretaries, cocktail waitresses and other hourly wage staff. It’s happening to high-level executives as well.
A group of women conducted a survey in the Bay Area called “Elephant in the Valley” after one of their colleagues, Ellen Pao, filed and lost a gender discrimination suit.
According to Quartz, Pao, a junior partner at investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, reported gender discrimination in being excluded from company events, being labeled as “too aggressive,” and receiving blowback after ending an affair with one of her business partners. Ultimately, Pao lost the lawsuit and her job.
Trae Vassallo, one of the publishers of “Elephant in the Valley,” told Quartz that they found that men were “shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace.” Here are a few of those inequalities:
59 percent of women feel that they have fewer opportunities because of their gender.
66 percent said that they felt excluded from key social/networking events because of their gender.
88 percent said that they had experienced clients/colleagues address questions to male peers that should have been addressed to them.
Even though some of these women are in equal or higher ranking jobs than men, what “Elephant in the Valley” calls an “unconscious bias” still permeates the workplace, limiting women’s opportunities.
In addition to having fewer business opportunities, women are often forced to choose between career and family in a way that men are not, according to Pew Research Center. Pew found that 51 percent of women say that being a working parent has hindered their career advancement. Only 2 percent of men reported the same problem.
Similarly, Elephant in the Valley reports that 75 percent of women were asked questions about children and marital status in job interviews. Many women (40 percent) avoid talking about their family in the workplace because they believe doing so is damaging to their career.
In the area of harassment, 60 percent of women interviewed for “Elephant in the Valley” said they have received unwanted sexual advances at work, most of these coming from their superiors.
As seen in Pao’s case reported by Quartz, harassment from a superior complicates a woman’s situation because it places her in an ethical and moral dilemma: Where engaging in unwanted sexual conduct may advance a woman’s career, denying sexual advances or reporting sexual harassment may hurt her career.
Thirty-nine percent of women did not report harassment for fear of retaliation, according to “Elephant in the Valley.” Of those who did report it, 60 percent felt dissatisfied with the resolution.
The Pew research found that 39 percent of men believe that the country has reached equality in the workplace and that further efforts should cease.
In many ways, it is men who have the power to effect change in gender discrimination. Many women are already doing all they can, and as Quartz reports, they are often labeled as “bossy” or “aggressive” for doing so.
Women in certain countries are less likely than men to own a key tool for fighting gender inequality: smartphones.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center identified gender disparities in device ownership and noted that more men than women have smartphones in about half the countries examined. This gender divide for smartphones tends to be deepest in developing countries, though a gap between the sexes also exists in wealthy nations like Canada and the U.K.
Overall, researchers found a gender gap in 19 of 40 countries surveyed. The most significant disparities appear in Mexico, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.
While the gap in the United States is fairly narrow (66 percent of men and 63 percent of women have smartphones), the country continues to grapple with other tech-related gender inequalities. Women are still underrepresented in tech and engineering jobs; they also tend to make less money than male co-workers at even the hippest tech startups.
Other research backs up Pew’s findings. In developing countries, women are 14 percent less likely than men to own mobile phones, according to a 2015 report from the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, an international trade association for mobile phone operators. Sexist social norms, poor service delivery and high costs keep these women from buying and using mobile devices, the report found.
“Cost remains the greatest barrier overall to owning and using a mobile phone, particularly for women, who often have less financial independence than men,” thereport states.
Improving women’s access to smartphones and the Internet could help mend gender inequalities, according to a 2013 study from Intel. Just being able to use the Internet can increase income and feelings of empowerment for women, the report found.
“Internet use also provides more subtle, longer-term benefits around empowerment, such as increased confidence, external validation and expression,” the Intel report states.
The Intel report notes that Internet use can expose women to online harassment and sexual trafficking, however. The report’s authors write that “education on safe use of the Internet, together with policies to address these dangers at a macro level, are necessary to mitigate the very real risks.”
Disparities in smartphone ownership also break along class lines, according to the Pew study. Smartphone ownership jumped from 21 to 37 percent in developing countries from 2013 to 2015. But smartphone ownership in those countries is still 31 percent lower than in the 11 developed countries Pew surveyed, according to their report.
Ansuja Madival’s mother, who works as a maid, had never touched a tablet before, so the 15-year-old had to show her which buttons to press. “She was so happy when she saw what I had made,” Ansuja says. “She never knew I was so good at computers.”
No one thought schoolgirls from Mumbai’s Dharavi slum could code mobile apps. The girls didn’t even know what an app was until recently.
But for the past few months, 67 girls have been taking coding lessons at the weekends with a local non-profit, the Slum Innovation Project.
“We learned it so quickly,” says Roshani Shaikh, 14. “Because we’re girls, our parents didn’t want us to do all this in the beginning. They’d say, ‘You need to help with the housework, what will you do with computers?’ Now they say we’ve made them proud, that we’ve made the whole community proud.”
Sapna Helagi, 15, adds: “When I first came here, I couldn’t even use the mouse. I would type only two or three words in one minute. Now, see how fast I am typing.”
Dharavi is home to more than 1 million people, 5,000 businesses and 20,000 small factories. About 90% of the housing in the slum is illegal, and piles of rubbish sit next to open sewers. The slum has come to symbolise the vast inequalities of wealth in India, as well as the aspirations and ambitions of the country’s working classes.
The Dharavi girls saw computers for the first time five years ago. “We had one at school but we could only look, no touching,” says Zaberi Ansari, 15. “I did extra computer classes but it cost 600 rupees [£6] a year and all we learned was [Microsoft drawing programme] Paint. It was Paint for two years, then PowerPoint for two years and you learn nothing because you share the computer, so it’s only 15 minutes a week per person.”
Nawneet Ranjan, from the Slum Innovation Project, which runs educational and sports programmes for the slum’s children, said that at first parents were reluctant to send their girls to lessons. “You know how it is in India – the girl never gets to go to these kinds of classes. If there’s any [opportunity], it goes to the boy. Even if there’s an extra glass of milk, the boy gets to drink it, not the girl.
“The kids here don’t have much. Their parents are taxi drivers, or watch repairmen, or construction workers,” he says. “They don’t learn to dream beyond that.”
Ranjan brought laptops to the slum and started teaching computer classes two years ago, starting with programmes such as Word and Excel, and moving on to more complicated tools. “The girls know intuitively how to use smartphones and tablets. They pick it up easily. I try to teach them using stories so they can remember, and we make apps that help their communities, address problems they have in their daily lives, so they are really passionate about making them.”
Ranjan had the idea to teach code this year, when he noticed that most of the girls had access to smartphones. “I realised that if they had the skills to design apps, maybe they could solve a lot of the problems in their communities,” he says. “Girls using technology used to be almost taboo. They don’t get the same opportunities as boys, and so we thought we’d do a class especially for them.”
In Dharavi, most households have at least one smartphone, even though few homes have basic facilities such as toilets.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has launched huge programmes to promote computer literacy and online connectivity as part of his Digital India campaign, but has focused on rural areas rather than the urban poor.
One of the apps developed by the girls is Women Fight Back, which has a distress alarm and geolocation tool for women who find themselves in danger. Another, Clean and Green, allows the user to take a geotagged photo of rubbish and send the picture to the local municipal authority. A third, Paani, sends an alert when it is your turn to collect water from the communal tap. “We girls spend all day queueing for water,” says Ansuja. “It means we have less time for our studies.”
Roshani and Sapna’s app, Padai, has basic English, Hindi and maths exercises for people who have never had an education. “When our parents came here, we showed them this app. They never finished school, they don’t know that two plus three equals five. So I showed them this app, and made them do the exercises. They were so happy,” says Roshani.
Learning to code and working with computers has taught the girls other skills too. “Our first lesson was using Word, and we had to type an essay with the title Myself. I had never used full stops, commas or anything like that before. I just used to write the words. Now I can use punctuation, and make sentences,” says Zaberi.
“We go home and teach our parents and brothers and sisters what we learn,” adds Roshani. “We taught them how to do their signature; they could never do it before.”
But despite the girls’ efforts, poor Wi-Fi signals and expensive mobile data means few people in the slum are likely to download and use their apps. Plus, smartphones in the slum usually belong to men, and women have limited access to them.
Still, the girls hope their skills will help them when they look for careers. “It’s already helping,” says Ansuja. “At school, my teacher saw me using the computer and she was impressed at how good I was. She asked me where I learned how to use it. I hope I can work with computers one day, and I hope I can use them to help my friends and family.”
MONTREAL – Move over Wilfrid Laurier, Robert Borden and William Lyon – there’s a new woman in town and one Montreal city councillor intends to put her on Canadian currency.
Marvin Rotrand, city councillor for Snowdon, told Global News he is planning to file a motion in favour of more women to be featured on Canadian currency at the next city council meeting, scheduled for Aug. 17.
“All our bills are basically old white guys,” said Rotrand.
“All of whom admittedly were very important in Canadian history, they were Prime Ministers and whatever, but there’s got to be a role for women.”
Rotrand said the country’s coinage and bills represent Canadian values as a society and one of those values is gender equality.
Therefore, it’s only fitting that women are properly represented.
“Women have contributed to the success of this country in every single domain,” he said.
“It’s time that women appear on Canadian money.”
Rotrand said his motion is non-partisan and is supported by several councillors representing all the parties and the independents at council.
“It will pass and I’m hoping this will launch some sort of national movement at the time of a federal election campaign,” he said.
The United States has recently announced that Alexander Hamilton will be removed from the $10 bill and will be a replaced by a woman.