356 - Levelling - gender | Scoins.net | DJS

356 - Levelling - gender

V2020 Gender infographic 5

Thinking about 'levelling up' we must consider—at length—what it is that is not equal. Among the many issues that will be placed here is gender inequality. I found, disturbingly rapidly, that several sites were confusing women's history with both feminism and with stories about inequality. I then wondered if that was a feminine approach to an issue and decided that, whether that might be true or not, it didn't affect what I want to know, which is any way we can quantify the perceived inequality. I include myself in perceiving that such inequality exists. In Britain (and comparing it with China, after seven years of living there) we have very few ladies driving taxis and buses, very few in the construction trades and all forms of engineering, we have gross imbalance over pay even allowing for maternity issues, magnified all over again in sport and the media. We have a strong businesses that trade in the images of women not balanced by those of men (why not?, what features of men are women wishing to emote over in a similar way?) I would support the removal of the Sun's page 3 daily picture (but I don't care, since I don't read that paper) and I would support driving all of that towards (but not arriving at) being considered pornographic. Or to put that differently, that this mild pornography be removed from the mainstream.

One strand of the levelling-up that belongs here is the education of males, preferably from an early age, into better behaviour towards others. Starting there might well remove many of the attitudinal problems, but only after they have worked through a generation or two. So that is one change, but there is surely a raft of other changes we could and should put in place more or less immediately. I am far from sure what these are, and I hope to discover some of them.

Wikipedia, a reliable source because its content is moderated, offers four sub-issues: culture, media, employment and education. Note here that the Talk element suggests that the whole article be deleted; The biased point of view it promotes is breathtaking. That is but one opinion and I disagree wholeheartedly; there needs to be an entry, so there is always argument for improved balance or more content or appreciation of conflicting views, such as those of representative men and women. What I want to see is substantiation of the issue, so that we might look at what we can do to affect it for the better. I myself found no evident bias in the content; perhaps the person making comment is a (male) Sun reader?

I am well aware that there are classes of women with whom I personally cannot work, particularly those who take offence at bald truth or indeed speed of thought; my interpretation is that the gender imbalance has made these women very sensitive to perceived slights, while my own parallel growth has shown a need for the objective task to be the target, not smoothing the egos of those that life throws me adjacent to. Maybe we're both at fault, but I never yet have reached a point where such content could be discussed.

The top graphic, from the V2020 gender report, shows the extent of the problem worldwide and I find its content horrible even to merely contemplate. However, I'm going to sidestep the issues raised there on the grounds that what I might affect is very much more local, within the UK and my own behaviour. I take the V2020 report as proof that there really is a problem that needs addressing.


The connected circles diagram is from Shift. I find some of these disturbing topics: while my first reaction was that a right to water, sanitation, food and health didn't belong within an umbrella of gender inequality, my second thought was that perhaps there is evidence that these DO belong as subheadings, meaning that there are places where those basics are denied on the grounds of gender. That is a horrible position to contemplate and I add it to the list of things I really hope don't happen in Britain, because we have laws that say it mustn't. But then I feel that way about education, protection, liberty and work already.

Employment

I found a lot of content readily available about gender pay gap. 

Clarification 1: The gender pay gap is different to equal pay. Equal pay deals with the pay differences between men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value. It is unlawful to pay people unequally because they are a man or a woman. 

Clarification 2: We have regulation requiring reporting of gender pay gap and you can look up data on an employer. So I picked a few and looked; for example where the missus works, women represent 4/5 of those on the lowest pay (which might be cleaners and cooks and would tell its own story), but the 'upper middle' stratum has ⅓ women and the top level ½ women. The overall position is that women are paid 72% of what the men are (median) paid, but I think that points to flawed measurement. The mean difference is 16%, so that points again to the shape of the distribution and says (to me) that the data is insufficient for any sound judgement to be made.

My daughter works part-time at a university. Here, the median gap is 14% and the mean gap 18% (that is, for every £1 the men earn, the women earn 82p). Again, the evidence is that women tend to work at the lower pay scales and I've inset that chart. But that presupposes that everyone's attitude to work is equal, that other demands on time are equal and that life choices are much the same. Apparently the university pays bonuses (news to me) to around 5% of its staff, on a 5:6 ratio by gender but 3:2 in volume. Again, I think this tells us nothing useful.

 HMG has a Treasury paper, of which I read a good deal. This report applies to those employed by the Treasury. In that sense it shows that HMG is making efforts to balance genders and that it is willing to show the position. My read at the inequalities then caused me to ask whether the jobs on offer perhaps lent themselves more towards a gender, such as perhaps the Debt Management Office, one-third female, though I didn't understand why the first half of the year, Q1 and Q2, had an even split while the other half of the year showed a significant shrinkage in pay made to women — is work at the Treasury seasonal employment?

So the position in Britain about employment is probably not about pay, or not precisely so. The lasting issues of absence from work remain. Parenting roles include absence due to pregnancy, early child care, later child care such as when a child is ill and other caring concerns such as for an elderly relative. To an extent, couples are able to make choices which partner provides this care, but it seems to fall unevenly upon women and I see this as a cultural issue. Obviously, care provision, now used in a general sense of duty to family, has an effect upon employment. Changes to working methods—such as working from home and a shorter working week—may well permit these apparent deficits to undergo repair.

A stretch of this family care issue is to look at unpaid work, even to regard the care discussed above as unpaid work and then to extent that label to other facets of life, such as household maintenance such as cooking and cleaning. I regard this as a cultural issue and a partnership choice, especially since I take that role (of the cleaning, house maintenance and the weekday cooking) myself. Less quite a bit of the cooking actually, because she often stays at school late, with the result that we eat separately. Which is not as conflicted a situation as it reads.

In Britain, gender-based pay has legislation and regulation so that we declare some data. That data is not particularly helpful, but perhaps the process causes some better data to be shared internally and just having a discussion is much healthier than not having one. I conclude that the perception of pay inequality has a lot to do with life choices such as family responsibilities and that, to an extent, employment has become less of an essential as we move, hopefully, towards a shorter but more effective working week.  Specifically, It would appear that a woman is more likely than a man to turn down an opportunity for promotion because her other interests and responsibilities create a situation where she is better off with the (lesser) position she has. In the same circumstances a man will grab the promotion without (even) considering the ancillary costs. If we were to improve the consideration that males have (for others) then we would, I think, fairly soon reach a position in which promotion required much more persuasion by the employer and / or very much better employment conditions for all concerned. I am specifically bothered that, from my own experience, most promotions resulted in more work for what turned out to be less pay per hour. This is quite difference from a simple increase in pay, which tended to be belated recognition of improved productivity.

Education

Inequality in the context of education has greater implications in terms of future employment. Elements of the school curriculum still advocate certain gender-specific practices. Boys lag behind girls at important educational milestones. At Key Stage 2 girls outperform boys. The proportion of students achieving level 4 and above in reading, writing and maths, in 2015, in England, was 77% boys compared to 83% girls. The gap is wider for students who receive a free school meal. [17]  Girls outperform boys in headline GCSE results. In state-funded schools, the gap in those achieving 5+ grades a*-C including English and maths is around 10 percentage points.[17]  Young women are more likely to enrol at university. In 2016 the gender gap in favour of women was the highest on record. "In England, young women are 36% more likely to apply to university and when both sexes are from disadvantaged backgrounds young women are 58% more likely to apply."[18]  [1]

All of which suggests that women do better by most measures with regard to education. Why then is that the perception is that men are 'in front' thereafter? Do the men catch up while at university or is the difference something more to do with all those who do not go to university at all? Or the perception that one must get out and earn a living?

A quite different matter applies to sex education which, while one might applaud that there is some rather than none, is too often taken as a let-out by parents, who feel that if school is 'covering it' they are excused any participation in that aspect of education. But that applies to so much of what occurs at school, that parents have been somehow excused from responsibility. It would be so much better if parents saw their role as eased by school, not as a reason for abrogation.

In England and Wales, the optional curriculum focuses mainly on biological areas such as the reproductive system, foetal development, and the physical changes of adolescence, while information about contraception and safe sex is discretionary [20] and discussion about relationships and gender roles is often neglected. [21]  In April 2014, Bates remarked that "better sex and relationships education in schools is desperately needed" to teach areas around "healthy relationships, consent, respect and sexual abuse" in response to tackling everyday sexism earlier in life. [22]  

I am particularly concerned that we collectively are doing so little to educate males about their responsibilities as potential parents and that our culture works to preserve what one might call laddish behaviour, a life that recognises no responsibility for actions.

Media   

A YouGov survey in October 2012 found differences in attitude toward Page 3 among readers of different newspapers; 61% of Sun readers wished to retain the feature, while 24 percent said that the newspaper should stop showing Page 3 women. However, only 4% of Guardian readers said The Sun should keep Page 3, while 86% said it should be abolished. The poll also found wide differences by gender, with 48% of men overall saying that Page 3 should be retained, but just 17% of women taking that position.[13] [1] again]

We allow and therefore passively encourage our media to act in ways that promote sexism and gender discrimination, and one such topic is the Sun's Page 3 daily feature. This is easily coupled with perception of body shape — one might note the discrepancy between the idealised shape c/o media and actual body shapes seen in public but that applies to both genders and could be largely cured by causing us all to attend more to our general health (instead of only caring when we lack health).

I pick a paragraph from [2] that caught my eye, inset right. This not only applies to gender inequality but also race and you can quite easily apply the same thinking to many of our global problems, that powerful interests cause others to align, when there are often much better ways to view the way we would like the world to be.

Culture  

 It has increasingly been observed [1][2] that a pervasive 'lad culture' has developed in the U.K., described as an ironic, self-conscious method for young males to adopt "an anti-intellectual position, scorning sensitivity and caring in favour of drinking, violence, and a pre-feminist and racist attitude to women as both sex objects and creatures from another species".[3] In April 2014, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women similarly concluded that Britain has a "boys' club sexist culture".[4] [1]  

We seem to think that gender inequality in Britain is a solved issue. [3]  Research as to what inequalities are considered more serious is discussed at [4], but I'm afraid I looked at the list and decided almost instantly that this was a reflection of 'what would I like to happen that would make me feel better?'. To put that another way, if you're male then female inequality is probably not a concern (it is to me, but I'm odd); if you're in the white majority you feel much the same about race or ethnic discrimination (again, I'm odd); If you feel underpaid the concern about wealth and income is high on your list — personally I'd like an upper limit cap and for the spread of income to be much narrower; deprivation is on my list, but those who live in nice places don't put it on their's and I've written already recently about people's attitudes to losing what they see as their advantages over others (happiness, zero-sum games, etc); I'm not much concerned over generational inequality or perceptions of that, since my own kids succeeded (and yes that's a small sample, but they planned to match their parents' measures of success). I'm not at all bothered about inequalities resulting from education; I'm bothered about access to education, how that provision fails to deliver education, how we permit the bottom third to be so badly educated and how we have decided that one version of education applies to all. I'm bothered about health and life expectancy somewhat; that the north:south divide exists is a concern, that the NHS is seen as a cure-all is a concern, that we allow ourselves to drift into unhealthy practices without systems for rescue or even a culture that provides correction is a concern. But I shovel a lot of those health and well-being concerns into the same bucket that includes locational disadvantage; living in bad housing and being chronically short of resource does nothing good for one's health; these are not separable issues. We tend to think of ourselves when asked about advantage and disadvantage, with the result that our reaction looks to an outsider as looking for more advantage or less disadvantage for ourselves, not fixing a chronic social and societal problem.


DJS 20210709



[1]   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_inequality_in_the_United_Kingdom

[2]   https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rWT4AAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP14&dq=uk+gender+inequality+media+essay&ots=aWfREJfHBA&sig=9FUcRFg91GxR9u14Mrdaq-KJee8#v=onepage&q=uk%20gender%20inequality%20media%20essay&f=false

[3]  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/28/britain-gender-equality-war-complacency-women-pandemic

[4]  https://www.kcl.ac.uk/policy-institute/assets/inequalities-around-the-globe.pdf  Lots of tables to look at. Very little text.

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