Today is International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the political and social achievements of women across the world and a day to raise awareness of gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, this is too long to wait.
This inbound marketing agency supports International Women’s Day, why? We’ve got a 50/50 gender split office and if you include our office dogs, we’ve got more bitches than you can shake a stick at. We regularly host female entrepreneurs and women in business events for one of our clients, bringing together some of Manchester’s finest females to network and share ideas.
Whether or not you agree, gender equality has not been achieved. A study commissioned by the Western Union revealed that 88% of British women, from all generations, surveyed believe that gender inequality is an issue that has longevity, and is unlikely to be resolved in five years’ time.
Back in university, a lecturer asked everyone in the room to put their hand up if they were a feminist, I’m ashamed to say that not one person did. Unfortunately, back then the feminist movement was tarnished by negative stereotypes of “bra burning women who hate men”, this could not be less true. Feminism is about the equality of all genders, it’s about people representing themselves how they want to be represented, and choosing what they do with their bodies. Emma Watson recently came under fire for posing topless on the cover of Vanity Fair, people called her out for being a “hypocrite” and “anti-feminist”, and it felt like people were only kicking off about it to have a dig at feminism, rather than talk about the actual issues surrounding objectification. Watson retorted back with: “Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women. It's about freedom, it's about liberation, it's about equality.” It’s pretty sad that still to this day, people still completely miss the point when it comes to feminism.
The history surrounding when International Women’s Day began is a little fuzzy, although the first recorded Women’s Day took place in 1908, where 15,000 women marched in New York City demanding better pay and the right to vote, the movement wasn’t fully recognised by the United Nations until 1975. Across the U.S, people today are participating in “a day without women” bringing to attention the impact of women on the domestic and global economy. “A day without women” also brings to light the sexual harassment, gender discrimination, lower wages and job insecurity that women across the world still have to contend with on a daily basis.
Why we still need International Women’s Day
Unfortunately, some people think that gender equality has been achieved and that there is no longer any need for celebrations such as International Women’s Day. Looking back to last week, Polish MEP Janusz Korwin Mikke sparked outrage on 1 March after claiming that women “must earn less than men in the workplace because they are 'weaker', 'smaller' and 'less intelligent'. Not only is this insulting and archaic, but it’s exactly the kind of sexism that warranted International Women’s Day to begin in the first place.
Data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that “UK women in their 20s were out-earning men in their 20s by an average of £1,111, suggesting a reversal of trends. However, the same study showed that men in their 30s out-earned women in their 30s by an average of £8775.” While the study did not explain the causes of the gender gap, it’s suggested that it could be due to factors such as maternity leave.
Last week the Big Bang Theory cast made it onto the news about the gender pay gap, well, they made it onto UNILAD…the article reported on how the Big Bang Theory cast had taken pay cuts to give the female stars equal pay. After reading the article, I was naturally attracted to the comments section, the usual breeding ground for keyboard warriors. Most of the comments were written by men claiming that pay equality already exists, and that women “mysteriously disappear for 9 months” and were therefore not deserving of equal pay. The comment that bothered me the most was that “men work harder”. Sure, gender equality has come a long way since 1908, but judging by these comments and comments by Janusz Korwin Mikke, gender equality has still got a long way to go. These comments obviously don’t represent the male population, but they do prove that the need for International Women’s Day is still very much required.
Positive movements in the tech industry
Back in November, half of our inbound marketing agency attended Inbound 2016 in Boston. You probably already know this as we like to talk about it from time to time. One of my favourite sessions was with the founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani. In the year 2010, Reshma was the first Indian American woman to run for U.S congress. During Reshma’s time campaigning she visited local schools and it was throughout these visits that Reshma saw firsthand the gender gap in computing classes. After campaigning Reshma set up Girls Who Code; a charity founded on the simple mission “to close the gender gap in technology”. According to Girls Who Code: “By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing related fields. US graduates are on track to fill 29% of those jobs. Women are on track to fill just 3%.” Girls who Code has gone from 20 girls in New York to 10,000 girls in 42 states.
Another person who deserves a special mention in this blog is Valerie Aurora. Aurora works with tech startups in Silicon Valley, a place famous for not only it’s hi-tech companies and products, but also for the small numbers of minorities and women involved in making them happen. Aurora is a feminist activist and her main aim is to inspire men to step in when they see other men engaging in casual sexism. She wants to shift the focus from “What can women do about sexism” to “What can men do about sexism, because it is their responsibility.” Aurora is influencing men, particularly the “middle-men” in companies to use their “societal privilege” to break down the barriers and influence others to stop engaging in casual sexism. It shouldn't just stop at sexism either, people should be standing up against all kinds of discrimination, we're all the skin and bones, we're all made the same way, not one group should ever be discriminated against. It's 2017.
Although gender equality has still got a long way to go, it’s refreshing to hear about companies and charities, like the above, making positive strides to close the gap.
If you want to get involved and support International Women’s Day, the hashtag is #BeBoldForChange.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve created the below infographic.
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