Gender inequality

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Gender inequality is the idea that women and men are not equal. Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles.[1] Gender systems are often dichotomous and hierarchical; gender binary systems may reflect the inequalities that manifest in numerous dimensions of daily life. Gender inequality stems from distinctions, whether empirically grounded or socially constructed. (On differences between the sexes, see Sex and psychology.)

Natural sex differences[edit]

Natural differences exist between the sexes based on biological and anatomic factors, most notably differing reproductive roles. Biological differences include chromosomes and hormonal differences.[1] There is a natural difference also in the relative physical strengths (on average) of the sexes, both in the lower body and more pronouncedly in the upper-body, though this does not mean that any given man is stronger than any given woman.[2][3] Men, on average, are taller, which provides both advantages and disadvantages.[4] Women live significantly longer than men,[5] though it is not clear to what extent this is a biological difference - see Life expectancy. Men have larger lung volumes and more circulating blood cells and clotting factors, while females have more circulating white blood cells and produce antibodies faster.[6] Differences such as these are hypothesized to be an adaption allowing for sexual specialization.[7]

Psychology[edit]

Prenatal hormone exposure influences to what extent one exhibits traditional masculine or feminine behavior.[8][9] No differences between males and females exist in general intelligence.[10] Men are significantly more likely to take risks than women.[11] Men are also more likely to be aggressive, a trait influenced by prenatal and possibly current androgen exposure.[12][13] It has been theorized that these differences combined with physical differences are an adaption representing sexual division of labor.[7] A second theory proposes sex differences in intergroup aggression represent adaptions in male aggression to allow for territory, resource and mate acquisition.[6] Females are more empathetic than males.[14] Men and females have better visuospatial and verbal memory, respectively. These changes are influenced by the male sex hormone testosterone, which increases visuospatial memory in both genders when administered.[15]

From birth males and females are raised differently and experience different environments throughout their lives. In the eyes of society, gender has a huge role to play in many major milestones or characteristics in life; like personality.[16] Males and females are lead on different paths before they are able to choose their own. The color blue is most commonly associated with boys and they get toys like monster trucks or more sport related things to play with from the time that they are babies. Girls are more commonly introduced to the color pink, dolls, dresses, and playing house where they are taking care of the dolls as if they were children. The norm of blue is for boys and pink is for girls is cultural and has not always historically been around. These paths set by parents or other adult figures in the child's life set them on certain paths.[17] This leads to a difference in personality, career paths, or relationships. Throughout life males and females are seen as two very different species who have very different personalities and should stay on separate paths.[18]

In the workplace[edit]

Deaths[edit]

93% of workplace deaths (fatal occupational injuries) in the US between 1980 and 1997 were men (97,053 deaths). The male fatality rate (8.6 per 100,000 workers) was 11 times greater than the female death rate of the 1980-97 time range (0.8). This accounts for the other 7% of work place deaths (6,886 deaths).[19]

Income disparities linked to job stratification[edit]

The gender pay gap is the average difference between men's and women's aggregate wages or salaries. The gap is due to a variety of factors, including differences in education choices, differences in preferred job and industry, differences in the types of positions held by men and women, differences in the type of jobs men typically go into as opposed to women (especially highly paid high risk jobs), differences in amount of work experiences, difference in length of the work week, and breaks in employment. These factors resolve 60% to 75% of the pay gap, depending on the source. Various explanations for the remaining 25% to 40% have been suggested, including women's lower willingness and ability to negotiate salaries and sexual discrimination.[20][21][22] According to the European Commission direct discrimination only explains a small part of gender wage differences.[23][24]

In the United States, the average female's unadjusted annual salary has been cited as 78% of that of the average male.[25] However, multiple studies from OECD, AAUW, and the US Department of Labor have found that pay rates between males and females varied by 5–6.6% or, females earning 94 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts, when wages were adjusted to different individual choices made by male and female workers in college major, occupation, working hours, and maternal/paternal leave.[26] The remaining 6% of the gap has been speculated to originate from deficiency in salary negotiating skills and sexual discrimination.[26][27][28][29]

Human capital theories refer to the education, knowledge, training, experience, or skill of a person which makes them potentially valuable to an employer. This has historically been understood as a cause of the gendered wage gap but is no longer a predominant cause as women and men in certain occupations tend to have similar education levels or other credentials. Even when such characteristics of jobs and workers are controlled for, the presence of women within a certain occupation leads to lower wages. This earnings discrimination is considered to be a part of pollution theory. This theory suggests that jobs which are predominated by women offer lower wages than do jobs simply because of the presence of women within the occupation. As women enter an occupation, this reduces the amount of prestige associated with the job and men subsequently leave these occupations. The entering of women into specific occupations suggests that less competent workers have begun to be hired or that the occupation is becoming deskilled. Men are reluctant to enter female-dominated occupations because of this and similarly resist the entrance of women into male-dominated occupations.[30][page needed]

The gendered income disparity can also be attributed in part to occupational segregation, where groups of people are distributed across occupations according to ascribed characteristics; in this case, gender.[citation needed] Occupational gender segregation can be understood[who?] to contain two components or dimensions; horizontal segregation and vertical segregation. With horizontal segregation, occupational sex segregation occurs as men and women are thought to possess different physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. These different capabilities make the genders vary in the types of jobs they are suited for. This can be specifically viewed with the gendered division between manual and non-manual labor.[citation needed] With vertical segregation, occupational sex segregation occurs as occupations are stratified according to the power, authority, income, and prestige associated with the occupation and women are excluded from holding such jobs.[30]

As women entered the workforce in larger numbers since the 1960s, occupations have become segregated based on the amount femininity or masculinity presupposed to be associated with each occupation.[citation needed] Census data suggests that while some occupations have become more gender integrated (mail carriers, bartenders, bus drivers, and real estate agents), occupations including teachers, nurses, secretaries, and librarians have become female-dominated while occupations including architects, electrical engineers, and airplane pilots remain predominately male in composition.[31] Based on the census data, women occupy the service sector jobs at higher rates than men. Women’s overrepresentation in service sector jobs, as opposed to jobs that require managerial work acts as a reinforcement of women and men into traditional gender roles that causes gender inequality.[32]

Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by sex, race, and ethnicity, U.S., 2009.[33]

Scholars disagree about how much of the male-female wage gap depends on factors such as experience, education, occupation, and other job-relevant characteristics. Sociologist Douglas Massey found that 41% remains unexplained,[30] while CONSAD analysts found that these factors explain between 65.1 and 76.4 percent of the raw wage gap.[34] CONSAD also noted that other factors such as benefits and overtime explain "additional portions of the raw gender wage gap".

The glass ceiling effect is also considered a possible contributor to the gender wage gap or income disparity. This effect suggests that gender provides significant disadvantages towards the top of job hierarchies which become worse as a person’s career goes on. The term glass ceiling implies that invisible or artificial barriers exist which prevent women from advancing within their jobs or receiving promotions. These barriers exist in spite of the achievements or qualifications of the women and still exist when other characteristics that are job-relevant such as experience, education, and abilities are controlled for. The inequality effects of the glass ceiling are more prevalent within higher-powered or higher income occupations, with fewer women holding these types of occupations. The glass ceiling effect also indicates the limited chances of women for income raises and promotion or advancement to more prestigious positions or jobs. As women are prevented by these artificial barriers, from either receiving job promotions or income raises, the effects of the inequality of the glass ceiling increase over the course of a woman’s career.[35]

Statistical discrimination is also cited as a cause for income disparities and gendered inequality in the workplace. Statistical discrimination indicates the likelihood of employers to deny women access to certain occupational tracks because women are more likely than men to leave their job or the labor force when they become married or pregnant. Women are instead given positions that dead-end or jobs that have very little mobility.[36]

In Third World countries such as the Dominican Republic, female entrepreneurs are statistically more prone to failure in business. In the event of a business failure women often return to their domestic lifestyle despite the absence of income. On the other hand, men tend to search for other employment as the household is not a priority.[37]

The gender earnings ratio suggests that there has been an increase in women’s earnings comparative to men. Men’s plateau in earnings began after the 1970s, allowing for the increase in women’s wages to close the ratio between incomes. Despite the smaller ratio between men and women’s wages, disparity still exists. Census data suggests that women’s earnings are 71 percent of men’s earnings in 1999.[31]

The gendered wage gap varies in its width among different races. Whites comparatively have the greatest wage gap between the genders. With whites, women earn 78% of the wages that white men do. With African Americans, women earn 90% of the wages that African American men do.

There are some exceptions where women earn more than men: According to a survey on gender pay inequality by the International Trade Union Confederation, female workers in the Gulf state of Bahrain earn 40 per cent more than male workers.[38]

In 2014, a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) reveals the wage gap between Cambodian women factory workers and other male counterparts. There was a $25 USD monthly pay difference conveying that women have a much lower power and being devalued not only at home but also in the workplace.[39]

Professional education and careers[edit]

The gender gap also appeared to narrow considerably beginning in the mid-1960s. Where some 5% of first-year students in professional programs were female in 1965, by 1985 this number had jumped to 40% in law and medicine, and over 30% in dentistry and business school.[40] Before the highly effective birth control pill was available, women planning professional careers, which required a long-term, expensive commitment, had to "pay the penalty of abstinence or cope with considerable uncertainty regarding pregnancy."[41] This control over their reproductive decisions allowed women to more easily make long-term decisions about their education and professional opportunities. Women are highly underrepresented on boards of directors and in senior positions in the private sector.[42]

Additionally, with reliable birth control, young men and women had more reason to delay marriage. This meant that the marriage market available to any one women who "delay[ed] marriage to pursue a career...would not be as depleted. Thus the Pill could have influenced women's careers, college majors, professional degrees, and the age at marriage."[43]

Studies on sexism in science and technology fields have produced conflicting results. Corinne et al. found that science faculty of both sexes rated a male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than an identical female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant.[44] Williams and Ceci, however, found that science and technology faculty of both sexes "preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles" for tenure-track positions.[45]

Customer preference studies[edit]

A 2010 study conducted by David R. Hekman and colleagues found that customers who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer were 19 percent more satisfied with the white male employee's performance.[46][47][48][49][50]

This discrepancy with race can be found as early as 1947, when Kenneth Clark conducted a study in which black children were asked to choose between white and black dolls. White male dolls were the ones children preferred to play with.[51][52]

Gender pay differences in the medical field[edit]

Although the disparities between men and women are decreasing in the medical field,[53] gender inequalities still exist as social problems.[54] From 1999 to 2008, recently qualified female doctors in the US made almost $170,000,000 less than their male counterparts. The pay discrepancy could not be explained by specialty choice, practice setting, work hours, or other characteristics.[55]

Gender discrimination against men[edit]

There is a common misconception that women are the only ones that experience gender inequality in the workplace, but that is not true; Men face discrimination as well. Where women will receive some form of parental leave after having a child, a father will not get nearly as much time off, if any at all. New fathers usually will not get enhanced pay during parental leave like women do. Many employers will work with women when it comes to schedule changes, but men will rarely enjoy that same benefit. Under the Equality Act 2010, sex discrimination is not solely defined as a man harassing a woman; male employees have also faced sexual harassment in the workplace, though it is rarely, if ever, discussed.[56]

At home[edit]

Gender roles in parenting and marriage[edit]

Gender roles are heavily influenced by biology, with male-female play styles correlating with sex hormones,[57] sexual orientation, aggressive traits,[58] and pain.[59] Furthermore, females with congenital adrenal hyperplasia demonstrate increased masculinity[60] and it has been shown that rhesus macaque children exhibit preferences for stereotypically male and female toys.[61]

Gender inequality in relationships[edit]

Gender equality in relationships has been growing over the years but for the majority of relationships, the power lies with the male.[62] Even now men and women present themselves as divided along gender lines. A study done by Szymanowicz and Furnham, looked at the cultural stereotypes of intelligence in men and women, showing the gender inequality in self-presentation.[63] This study showed that females thought if they revealed their intelligence to a potential partner, then it would diminish their chance with him. Men however would much more readily discuss their own intelligence with a potential partner. Also, women are aware of people’s negative reactions to IQ, so they limit its disclosure to only trusted friends. Females would disclose IQ more often than men with the expectation that a real true friend would respond in a positive way. Intelligence continues to be viewed as a more masculine trait, than feminine trait. The article suggested that men might think women with a high IQ would lack traits that were desirable in a mate such as warmth, nurturance, sensitivity, or kindness. Another discovery was that females thought that friends should be told about one’s IQ more so than males. However, males expressed doubts about the test’s reliability and the importance of IQ in real life more so than women. The inequality is highlighted when a couple starts to decide who is in charge of family issues and who is primarily responsible for earning income. For example, in Londa Schiebinger’s book, "Has Feminism Changed Science?", she claims that "Married men with families on average earn more money, live longer and happier, and progress faster in their careers," while "for a working woman, a family is a liability, extra baggage threatening to drag down her career."[64] Furthermore, statistics had shown that "only 17 percent of the women who are full professors of engineering have children, while 82 percent of the men do."[65]

Attempts in equalizing household work[edit]

Despite the increase in women in the labor force since the mid-1900s, traditional gender roles are still prevalent in American society. Women may be expected to put their educational and career goals on hold in order to raise children, while their husbands work. However, women who choose to work as well as fulfill a perceived gender role of cleaning the house and taking care of the children. Despite the fact that different households may divide chores more evenly, there is evidence that supports that women have retained the primary caregiver role within familial life despite contributions economically. This evidence suggest that women who work outside the home often put an extra 18 hours a week doing household or childcare related chores as opposed to men who average 12 minutes a day in childcare activities.[66] One study by van Hooff showed that modern couples, do not necessarily purposefully divide things like household chores along gender lines, but instead may rationalize it and make excuses.[62] One excuse used is that women are more competent at household chores and have more motivation to do them. Another is that some say the demands of the males’ jobs is higher.

There was a study conducted at an "urban comprehensive school". They were asked questions regarding their views in sexual inequality. Many parents were for the equal pay for men and women. They also were in favor for men to help with the housework. In this study, the majority of the people who were interviewed wanted gender equality and more people wants a change in gender roles. Where men stay home, cleans, and cooks while the women can work and help support the family.[citation needed]

Gender roles have changed drastically over the past few decades. In the article, it says that in 1920-1966, there was data recorded that women spent the most time care-tending with the home and family. There was a study made with the gender roles with the males and females, The results showed that as women spend less time in the house, men have taken over the role as the mother. The article also said that women who work spend less time within the house and with their children if they have any. Furthermore, men are taking the roles of women in the homes and its changing as time goes on. Robin A. Douthitt, the author of the article, "The Division of Labor Within the Home: Have Gender Roles Changed?" concluded by saying, "(1) men do not spend significnatly more time with chil- dren when their wives are employed and (2) employed women spend signifi- cantly less time in child care than their full-time homemaker counterparts, over a 10-year period both mothers and fathers are spending more total time with children." (703).[full citation needed]

Gender inequalities in relation to technology[edit]

One survey showed that men rate their technological skills in activities such as basic computer functions and online participatory communication higher than women. However, it should be noted that this study was a self-reporting study, where men evaluate themselves on their own perceived capabilities. It thus is not data based on actual ability, but merely perceived ability, as participants' ability was not assessed. Additionally, this study is inevitably subject to the significant bias associated with self-reported data.[67]

In contrary to such findings, a carefully controlled study that analyzed data sets from 25 developing countries led to the consistent finding that the reason why fewer women access and use digital technology is a direct result of their unfavorable conditions and ongoing discrimination with respect to employment, education and income.[68] When controlling for these variables, women turn out to be more active users of digital tools than men. This turns the alleged digital gender divide into an opportunity: given women's affinity for ICT, and given that digital technologies are tools that can improve living conditions, ICT represents a concrete and tangible opportunity to tackle longstanding challenges of gender inequalities in developing countries, including access to employment, income, education and health services.

Property Inheritance[edit]

Many countries have laws that give less inheritance of ancestral property for women compared to men.[69][70]

Structural marginalization[edit]

Gender inequalities often stem from social structures that have institutionalized conceptions of gender differences.[citation needed]

Marginalization occurs on an individual level when someone feels as if they are on the fringes or margins of their respective society. This is a social process and displays how current policies in place can affect people. For example, media advertisements display young girls with easy bake ovens (promoting being a housewife) as well as with dolls that they can feed and change the diaper of (promoting being a mother).

Gender stereotypes[edit]

Cultural stereotypes are engrained in both men and women and these stereotypes are a possible explanation for gender inequality and the resulting gendered wage disparity. Women have traditionally been viewed as being caring and nurturing and are designated to occupations which require such skills.[clarification needed][citation needed] While these skills are culturally valued,[clarification needed] they were typically associated with domesticity, so occupations requiring these same skills are not economically valued.[citation needed] Men have traditionally been viewed as the breadwinner or the worker, so jobs held by men have been historically economically valued and occupations predominated by men continue to be economically valued and earn higher wages.[30][page needed]

Biological fertilisation stereotypes[edit]

Bonnie Spanier coined the term hereditary inequality.[71] Her opinion is that some scientific publications depict human fertilization such that sperms seem to actively compete for the "passive" egg, even though in reality it is complicated (e.g. the egg has specific active membrane proteins that select sperm etc.)

Sexism and discrimination[edit]

Gender inequality can further be understood through the mechanisms of sexism. Discrimination takes place in this manner as men and women are subject to prejudicial treatment on the basis of gender alone. Sexism occurs when men and women are framed within two dimensions of social cognition.

Discrimination also plays out with networking and in preferential treatment within the economic market. Men typically occupy positions of power within the job economy. Due to taste or preference for other men because they share similar characteristics, men in these positions of power are more likely to hire or promote other men, thus discriminating against women.[30]

In the criminal justice system[edit]

Sonja B. Starr conducted a study in the US that found that the prison sentences that men serve are on average 63% longer than those that women serve when controlling for arrest offense and criminal history. However, the study does not purport to explain why this is the case. Starr does not believe that men are disadvantaged generally.[72] Men's rights advocates have argued that men being over-represented in both those who commit murder and the victims of murder is evidence that men are being harmed by outmoded cultural attitudes.[73]

In television and film[edit]

The New York Film Academy took a closer look at the women in Hollywood and gathered statistics from the top 500 films from 2007 to 2012; for their history and achievements, or lack of.

With only a 5:1 ratio of men working in films than women, the 30.8% of women having speaking characters, who may or may not have been a part of the 28.8% of women who were written to wear revealing clothing compared to the 7% of men who did, or the 26.2% of women who wore little to no clothing opposed to the 9.4% of men who did the same.[74]

Hollywood actresses get paid less than actors. Topping the Forbes' highest paid actors list, of 2013, is Robert Downey Jr. with $75 million yet Angelina Jolie tops the highest paid actresses list with only $33 million,[75] tying with Denzel Washington ($33 million) and Liam Neeson ($32 million) who were the last two of the top ten highest paid actors list.[76]

During the 2013 Academy Awards, 140 men were nominated for an award but only 35 women were nominated, however, no woman was nominated for directing, cinematography, film editing, writing (original screenplay), or original score that year. But ever since the Academy Awards first opened in 1929, only 7 women producers have won the Best Picture category (all women who have been co-producers with men), only 8 women have been nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and Lina Wertmuller (1976), Jane Campion (1994), Sofia Coppola (2004), and Kathryn Bigelow (2012) were the only 4 women to be nominated for Best Directing, with Bigelow being the first woman to win for her film The Hurt Locker.

77% males make up the Academy Awards' voters.[74]

Impact and counteractions[edit]

Gender inequality and discrimination are argued to cause and perpetuate poverty and vulnerability in society as a whole.[77] Household and intra-household knowledge and resources are key influences in individuals' abilities to take advantage of external livelihood opportunities or respond appropriately to threats.[77] High education levels and social integration significantly improve the productivity of all members of the household and improve equity throughout society. Gender Equity Indices seek to provide the tools to demonstrate this feature of poverty.[77]

Poverty has many different factors, one of which is the gender wage gap.[citation needed] Women are more likely to be living in poverty and the wage gap is one of the causes.[78]

There are many difficulties in creating a comprehensive response.[79] It is argued[by whom?] that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fail to acknowledge gender inequality as a cross-cutting issue. Gender is mentioned in MDG3 and MDG5: MDG3 measures gender parity in education, the share of women in wage employment and the proportion women in national legislatures.[77] MDG5 focuses on maternal mortality and on universal access to reproductive health.[77] These targets are significantly off-track.[79]

Addressing gender inequality through social protection programmes designed to increase equity would be an effective way of reducing gender inequality, according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).[79] Researchers at the ODI argue for the need to develop the following in social protection in order to reduce gender inequality and increase growth:[77]

  • Community childcare to give women greater opportunities to seek employment;
  • Support parents with the care costs (e.g. South African child/disability grants);
  • Education stipends for girls (e.g. Bangladesh’s Girls Education Stipend scheme);
  • Awareness-raising regarding gender-based violence, and other preventive measures, such as financial support for women and children escaping abusive environments (e.g. NGO pilot initiatives in Ghana);
  • Inclusion of programme participants (women and men) in designing and evaluating social protection programmes;
  • Gender-awareness and analysis training for programme staff;
  • Collect and distribute information on coordinated care and service facilities (e.g. access to micro-credit and micro-entrepreneurial training for women); and
  • Developing monitoring and evaluation systems that include sex-disaggregated data.

The ODI maintains that society limits governments' ability to act on economic incentives.[79]

NGO's tend to protect women against gender inequality and Structural violence.

During war, combatants primarily target men. Both sexes die however, due to disease, malnutrition and incidental crime and violence, as well as the battlefield injuries which predominately affect men.[80] A 2009 review of papers and data covering war related deaths disaggregated by gender concluded "It appears to be difficult to say whether more men or women die from conflict conditions overall."[81] The ratio also depends on the type of war, for example in the Falklands War 904 of the 907 dead were men. Conversely figures for war deaths in 1990, almost all relating to civil war, gave ratios in the order of 1.3 males per female.

Another opportunity to tackle gender inequality is presented by modern information and communication technologies. In a carefully controlled study,[68] it has been shown that women embrace digital technology more than men. Given that digital information and communication technologies have the potential to provide access to employment, education, income, health services, participation, protection, and safety, among others (ICT4D), the natural affinity of women with these new communication tools provide women with a tangible bootstrapping opportunity to tackle social discrimination.

Variations by country or culture[edit]

The Gender gap index world map for 2013.[82]

Gender inequality is a result of the persistent discrimination of one group of people based upon gender and it manifests itself differently according to race, culture, politics, country, and economic situation. It is furthermore considered a causal factor of violence against women.[citation needed] While gender discrimination happens to both men and women in individual situations, discrimination against women is an entrenched, global pandemic.[citation needed] In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape and violence against women and girls is used as a tool of war.[83][needs update] In Afghanistan, girls have had acid thrown in their faces for attending school.[84] Considerable focus has been given to the issue of gender inequality at the international level by organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank, particularly in developing countries. The causes and effects of gender inequality vary geographically, as do methods for combating it.

Asia[edit]

One example of the continued existence of gender inequality in Asia is the "missing girls" phenomenon.[85] “Many families desire male children in order to ensure an extra source of income. In China, females are perceived as less valuable for labor and unable to provide sustenance.” [86]

Cambodia[edit]

Cambodia is one of the examples. A Cambodian said “Men are gold, women are white cloth”, emphasizing women had a lower value and importance compared to men.[39] In Cambodia, approximately 15% (485,000 hectares) of land was owned by a women.[87] In Asian culture, there is a stereotype where women usually have a lower status than men because males carry on the family name and hold the responsibilities to take care of the family. Females on the other hand has a less important role. Their main role is to carry out domestic chores, taking care of her husband and children.[88] Women are also the main victims suffering from poverty as they have little or no access to education, low pay and low chances owning assets such as lands, homes or even basic item home but also in the workplace.[39]

In Cambodia, the Ministry of Women’s Affair (MoWA) was formed in 1998 with the role to improve women’s overall power and status in the country.[89]

Europe[edit]

Europe, as a whole, has a decent amount of disparity when in reference to Global Gender Gap Report put out by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2013. The Global Gender Gap Report ranks nation between 0 and 1. A nation with 35 women in political office and 65 men in political office would get a score of 0.538 as the WEF is measuring the gap between the two figures and not the actual percentage of women in a given category. While Europe holds the top 4 spots for gender equality, with Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden ranking 1st through 4th respectively, it also contains two nations ranked in the bottom 30 countries, Albania at 108 and Turkey at 120. The Nordic Countries, for several years, have been at the forefront of bridging the gap in gender inequality. Every Nordic country, aside from Denmark who is at 0.778, has reached above a 0.800 score. In contrast to the Nordic nations, the countries of Albania and Turkey continue to struggle with gender inequality. Albania and Turkey failed to break the top 100 nations in 2 of 4 and 3 of 4 factors, respectively. However, despite the disparity, European nations continue to make advances in the many factors that are used to determine a nation's gender gap score.[82]

Western Europe[edit]

Western Europe, a region most often described as comprising the non-communist members of post-WWII Europe,[90] has, for the most part been doing well in eliminating the gender gap. Western Europe holds 12 of the top 20 spots on the Global Gender Gap Report for overall score. While remaining mostly in the top 50 nations, 4 Western European nations fall below that benchmark. Portugal is just outside of the top 50 at number 51 with score of 0.706 while Italy (71), Greece (81) and Malta (84) received scores of 0.689, 0.678 and 0.676, respectively.[82]

Eastern Europe[edit]

A large portion of Eastern Europe, a region most often described as the former communist members of post-WWII Europe,[90] resides between 40th and 100th place in the Global Gender Gap Report. A few outlier countries include Lithuania, who jumped 9 places (37th to 28th) from 2011 to 2013, Latvia, who has held the 12th spot for 2 consecutive years and the aforementioned Albania and Turkey.[82]

India[edit]

India ranking remains low in gender equality measures by the World Economic Forum, although the rank has been improving in recent years.[82][91] When broken down into components that contribute the rank, India performs well on political empowerment, but is scored near the bottom with China on sex selective abortion. India also scores poorly on overall female to male literacy and health rankings. India with a 2013 ranking of 101 out of 136 countries had an overall score of 0.6551, while Iceland, the nation that topped the list, had an overall score of 0.8731 (no gender gap would yield a score of 1.0).[92] Gender inequalities impact India's sex ratio, women's health over their lifetimes, their educational attainment, and economic conditions. It is a multifaceted issue that concerns men and women alike.

The labor force participation rate of women was 80.7% in 2013.[93] Nancy Lockwood of Society for Human Resource Management, the world's largest human resources association with members in 140 countries, in a 2009 report wrote that female labor participation is lower than men, but has been rapidly increasing since the 1990s. Out of India's 397 million workers in 2001, 124 million were women, states Lockwood.[94]

India is on target to meet its Millennium Development Goal of gender parity in education before 2016.[95][needs update] UNICEF's measures of attendance rate and Gender Equality in Education Index (GEEI) attempt to capture the quality of education.[96] Despite some gains, India needs to triple its rate of improvement to reach GEEI score of 95% by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals.[needs update] A 1998 report stated that rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys.[97][needs update]

United States of America[edit]

The World Economic Forum measures gender equity through a series of economic, educational, and political benchmarks. It has ranked the United States as 19th (up from 31st in 2009) in terms of achieving gender equity.[98] The US Department of Labor has indicated that in 2009, "the median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers was…80 percent of men’s";[99] The Department of Justice found that in 2009, "the percentage of female victims (26%) of intimate partner violence was about 5 times that of male victims (5%)".[100] "The United States ranks 41st in a ranking of 184 countries on maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, below all other industrialized nations and a number of developing countries"[101] and women only represent 20% of members of Congress.[98]

Political affiliations and behaviors[edit]

Existing research on the topic of gender/sex and politics has found differences in political affiliation, beliefs, and voting behavior between men and women, although these differences vary across cultures. Gender is omnipresent in every culture, and while there are many factors to consider when labeling people "Democrat" or "Republican"—such as race and religion—gender is especially prominent in politics.[102][103] Studying gender and political behavior poses challenges, as it can be difficult to determine if men and women actually differ in substantial ways in their political views and voting behavior, or if biases and stereotypes about gender cause people to make assumptions.[104] However, trends in voting behavior among men and women have been proven through research.

Research shows that women in postindustrial countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany primarily identified as conservative before the 1960s; however, as time has progressed and new waves of feminism have occurred, women have become more left-wing due to shared beliefs and values between women and parties more on the left.[105] Women in these countries typically oppose war and the death penalty, favor gun control, support environment protection, and are more supportive of programs that help people of lower socioeconomic statuses.[102] Voting behaviors of men have not experienced as drastic of a shift over the last fifty years as women in their voting behavior and political affiliations. These behaviors tend to consistently be more conservative than women overall.[105] These trends change with every generation, and factors such as culture, race, and religion also must be considered when discussing political affiliation. These factors make the connection between gender and political affiliation complex due to intersectionality.[106]

Candidate gender also plays a role in voting behavior. Women candidates are far more likely than male candidates to be scrutinized and have their competence questioned by both men and women when they are seeking information on candidates in the beginning stages of election campaigns.[104] Democrat male voters tend to seek more information about female Democrat candidates over male Democrat candidates. Female Republican voters tend to seek more information about female Republican candidates.[104] For this reason, female candidates in either party typically need to work harder to prove themselves competent more than their male counterparts.[104]

Challenges to women in politics[edit]

Overall, politics in the United States are dominated by men, which can pose many challenges to women who decide to enter the political sphere. As the number of women participants in politics continue to increase around the world, the gender of female candidates serves as both a benefit and a hindrance within their campaign themes and advertising practices.[107] The overarching challenge seems to be that—no matter their actions—women are unable to win in the political sphere as different standards are used to judge them when compared to their male counterparts.[108]

One area in particular that exemplifies varying perceptions between male and female candidates is the way female candidates decide to dress and how their choice is evaluated. When women decide to dress more masculine, they are perceived as being "conspicuous." When they decide to dress more feminine, they are perceived as "deficient."[109] At the same time, however, women in politics are generally expected to adhere to the masculine standard, thereby validating the idea that gender is binary and that power is associated with masculinity.[110] As illustrated by the points above, these simultaneous, mixed messages create a "double-bind" for women. Some scholars go on to claim that this masculine standard represents symbolic violence against women in politics.[109]

Political knowledge is a second area where male and female candidates are evaluated differently and where political science research has consistently shown women with a lower level of knowledge than their male counterparts.[111] One reason for this finding is the argument that there are different areas of political knowledge that different groups consider.[112] Due to this line of thought, scholars are advocating the replacement of traditional political knowledge with gender-relevant political knowledge because women are not as politically disadvantaged as it may appear.[111]

A third area that affects women’s engagement in politics is their low level of political interest and perception of politics as a "men's game."[113] Despite female candidates' political contributions being equal to that of male candidates, research has shown that women perceive more barriers to office in the form of rigorous campaigns, less overall recruitment, inability to balance office and family commitments, hesitancy to enter competitive environments, and a general lack of belief in their own merit and competence.[114] Male candidates are evaluated most heavily on their achievements, while female candidates are evaluated on their appearance, voice, verbal dexterity, and facial features in addition to their achievements.[109]

Steps needed for change[edit]

Several forms of action have been taken to combat institutionalized sexism. People are beginning to speak up or "talk back" in a constructive way to expose gender inequality in politics, as well as gender inequality and under-representation in other institutions.[115] Researchers who have delved into the topic of institutionalized sexism in politics have introduced the term "undoing gender." This term focuses on education and an overarching understanding of gender by encouraging "social interactions that reduce gender difference."[110] Some feminists argue that "undoing gender" is problematic because it is context-dependent and may actually reinforce gender. For this reason, researchers suggest "doing gender differently" by dismantling gender norms and expectations in politics, but this can also depend on culture and level of government (e.g. local versus federal).[110]

Another key to combating institutionalized sexism in politics is to diffuse gender norms through "gender-balanced decision-making," particularly at the international level, which "establishes expectations about appropriate levels of women in decision-making positions."[116] In conjunction with this solution, scholars have started placing emphasis on "the value of the individual and the importance of capturing individual experience." This is done throughout a candidate's political career—whether that candidate is male or female—instead of the collective male or female candidate experience.[117] Five recommended areas of further study for examining the role of gender in U.S. political participation are (1) realizing the "intersection between gender and perceptions"; (2) investigating the influence of "local electoral politics"; (3) examining "gender socialization"; (4) discerning the connection "between gender and political conservatism"; and (5) recognizing the influence of female political role models in recent years.[118] Due to the fact that gender is intricately entwined in every societal institution, gender in politics can only change once gender norms in other institutions change, as well.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

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