Long before the #MeToo movement (the hashtag used on social media to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace), there has been growing momentum for change within the work environment. Much has been achieved in recent years however, there is still progress to be made, especially in organisations advocating bias-free and equitable environments.
How do we push for gender equality?
Gender equality has always been a hot topic. To get an understanding of the problems facing women in the workplace , we should look at how prejudices have been formed and if society has entrenched these viewpoints.
Decades of psychological research demonstrate widespread prejudice against females. For example, the study “Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men”, found that participants respond better to pitches if narrated by a male voice. Specifically, 68% of participants thought the venture was worth funding when presented by a male voice compared to 32% when delivered by a female voice.
Another study, “Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests”, shows this prejudice exists at a young age. When children were asked to guess the gender of the “really really smart” protagonist, even girls were less likely to think that the person was female. There is enough scientific evidence to prove that people have gender biases and that gender inequality persists in modern societies although there have been great strides in changing this.
Women at Work Today
Many organisations today understand that addressing gender imbalances can be beneficial for them in the long run. In fact, Mari Kiviniemi, OECD Deputy Secretary-General, says that the issue of gender equality is tied to economic performance. She claims in her article that: “There can be no robust growth economy without gender equality, a critical ingredient of any strategy for durable, resilient and more inclusive growth.”