The time has come for gender equality. Fortunately many dynamic, leading men are setting new standards and joining in the fight for gender equality and closing the gender gap. To make this happen, women need their help.
This is a challenging battle as it requires the re-programming of ‘brainwashed’ (as Warren Buffett puts it) women and men, who through conscious and unconscious biases have set the standards for: allowed careers, leadership positions, educational studies, behaviours, expectations, emotional comportment… and the list goes on. And where does it start? At birth – for both girls and boys! At first sight, parents have images of their newborn tough son or their delicate daughter.
Even if the enlightened parents of girls tell them, ‘you can become anything you want’, the girls are sabotaged once the educators take over. Empowering women and preparing them for leadership roles and careers in all professions starts in preschool. A recent study "Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests", by Lin Bian, Sarah-Jane Leslie, and Andrei Cimpian (January 27, 2017) had two major findings about children's perception of brilliance:
Watch this report "Get Smart: Girls May See Boys as Smarter by Age Six" by NBC News (USA, July 9, 2017). It will surprise you.
We have innocent, well-intentioned ‘brainwashed’ educators teaching the children and passing on their unconscious biases and stereotypes. They need to become aware of their own unconscious gender biases and learn how to counteract any attempts by others to embed them in their students. And it’s not just bias. Bias leads to other barriers, e.g. the belief that girls are not good at math, which leads to the reason girls don’t choose math beyond the basic elementary level, which then closes the door to all STEM based careers and future careers. This is the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Math needs to be compulsory from K – 12.
A recent article Gender-Science Stereotypes Persist Across the World (May 19, 2015 - Northwestern University) discusses a new Northwestern University study "Women’s Representation in Science Predicts National Gender-Science Stereotypes: Evidence From 66 Nations". The data, prevalent across the world from nearly 350,000 people in 66 nations, associates science stereotypes with men more than women.
When the young adults enter the workforce, and business wants to ensure gender equality, it must re-programme both the women and the men. However, many powerful and not-so-powerful men, have no intention of giving up the ‘rights’ they have had since birth. And most women lack the confidence, courage and fearlessness, they were born with, to overcome their subordinate positions. It is not for lack of intelligence – there is no difference in brain power.
Education cannot fight inequality on its own. Yes, businesses and governments need to re-programme their workforces, but most importantly, we must re-programme the educators where it all starts. More comprehensive monitoring of gender equality in education is needed, which requires evaluating curricula, textbooks, assessments and teacher education.
FLiAP is here to help all the teachers and to help build relationships between educators and business, so all doors are open for all girls. If nothing is done, then re-programming the workforce will continue ad infinitum. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to re-programme for gender equality?
Luckily we have some brilliant women leaders. The percentage is low, but they are fighting for equality and more men are helping. Read what Simone Scarpaleggia, CEO IKEA Switzerland has to say:
“The world is still governed by patriarchal rules. This is the biggest challenge not only women but society faces today. These existing rules dominate the way things run, both in the world of politics and business. This results in unequal opportunities, unattractive or even unsuitable working conditions for women. Biases, which define the decision-making, are at the core of this dilemma.”
“The first important step is to empower and support women to develop their full potential.”
“We need to break down the cultural biases. We need to change customs, business practices and attitudes that prevail in the world. We need to ensure that women and girls have better access to education.”
“I firmly believe there is huge potential that could be unlocked simply by valuing and empowering women. The energy, skills and creativity of women are badly needed – not only to make this world a better place, but also to enable it to survive in the years to come.”
In the essay Warren Buffett is bullish ... on women written for Fortune Magazine (May 2013), he tells a story about his dear friend Katherine Graham – brilliant and interesting, and long the controlling shareholder and CEO of the Washington Post Co. He writes, “she had been brainwashed – I don't like that word, but it's appropriate – by her mother, husband, and who knows who else to believe that men were superior, particularly at business.”
“I met Kay in 1973 and quickly saw that she was a person of unusual ability and character. But the gender-related self-doubt was certainly there too. Her brain knew better, but she could never quite still the voice inside her that said, "Men know more about running a business than you ever will."
“I told Kay that she had to discard the fun-house mirror that others had set before her and instead view herself in a mirror that reflected reality.” Then," I said, "you will see a woman who is a match for anyone, male or female."
“I wish I could claim I was successful in that campaign. Proof was certainly on my side: Washington Post stock went up more than 4,000% – that's 40 for 1 – during Kay's 18 years as boss. After retiring, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her superb autobiography. But her self-doubt remained, a testament to how deeply a message of unworthiness can be implanted in even a brilliant mind.”
He ends the essay with a plea, “Fellow males, get onboard. The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be. We've seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you'll join me as an unbridled optimist about America's future.”
"Any effort to advance gender equality must start with basic equal rights. Women struggle for equality every day, in every nation, in both the developing and developed world. In many places, women are still restricted in their ability to make independent economic decisions, to travel freely, to drive a car or to file for divorce."
"And of the world’s almost 800 million people aged 15 and older who are illiterate, about two-thirds are women, a proportion that hasn’t changed for two decades."
“Addressing barriers to gender equality is not just the right thing to do, it’s also vital for our future growth.” “By promoting the formal and active participation of women in the economy, we aim to transform lives, families, communities and economies. Globally, it is acknowledged that empowering women economically creates a ripple effect on families, communities and economies.”
“The Global Commitment to gender equality has never been stronger” so claims the United Nations High Level Panel on Women´s Economic Empowerment, reflecting that nearly 200 governments around the world have for the first time in history signed up to a concrete goal for achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Having said that, Gender Equality seems to remain a distant goal. According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, gender parity has gotten worse, not better in 2016 and won’t be reached for another 170 years.”
Global leaders at the UN Women’s HeForShe – Quotes
In September 2017, 30 global leaders unveiled their ground-breaking solutions for gender equality as part of UN Women’s HeForShe movement. These dynamic male leaders (HeForShe – male leaders championing equality for women) will be addressing critical policy issues, changing the course of business leadership and the futures of our next generation. They believe these proven practices have the potential to see economic gender equality achieved within our lifetime. This is a wonderful mission, but given the World Economic Forum prediction that the Gender Gap will not close until 2186, it is questionable that gender equality can be achieved within our lifetime. Now economic gender equality may be legislated in many countries within our lifetime and that would be a great first step.
Below are quotes from 8 of the 30 HeForShe’s IMPACT Champions – 2 of 10 Heads of State, 4 of 10 global CEOs and 2 of 10 University Presidents.
Heads of State
“I strongly believe removing the root causes of discrimination and violence against women and girls is a smart strategy to ensure a just and prosperous world.” –H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia
“I firmly believe that empowering women to maximize their high potential to the full extent will be a driving force that puts Japan, a country currently caught in an impasse, on track for growth and prosperity once again.” –H.E. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
CEOs of Global Corporations
“Gender equality is not a zero-sum game—it spurs opportunity and prosperity. Enabling both genders to contribute equally in business and their personal lives benefits all. When it comes to gender parity, leaders of all types have a vital role to play in creating the right tone throughout organizations and communities, inspiring women and men alike in building a culture of equality and eradicating gender-based siloes. Without steadfast commitment on every front and at every level, gender parity will remain elusive, and remember--all of us are or can be leaders!” –Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC International Ltd.
“Companies have a key role to play as change agents to build a world where gender equality is a reality. It is a question of determination. Leading by example and engaging more men in these challenges will be one of my key priorities.” –Jean Pascal Tricoire, CEO, Schneider Electric
“Our Instant Network classrooms give boys and girls the opportunity to learn on tablets and have access via our technology to knowledge and subjects at the same level as every other young person in the world. Education and technology can really improve their chances of having a better life, and maybe – as several told us – go back to their countries and help re-establish peaceful societies.” –Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone
“Gender bias is deeply rooted in our community [Turkey]. Unlearning this bias is our immense challenge, yet this is the key to gender equality. As Koç Group, we focus on creating a new gender paradigm that will assist us achieving gender equality in the workplace and in the society.” –Ömer M. Koç, Chairman, Koç Holding
“Real, sustainable change does not result from the actions of a single person or vision. While the HeForShe commitments focus on opening doors to women and girls in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM), disciplines, meaningful change requires commitment across our entire campus, with students, faculty, staff and alumni coming together to share their stories, identify opportunities, envision solutions and put plans into action.” –Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Waterloo
“I have been shocked by the male predominance in higher education in Hong Kong, and even more concerned by the passive acceptance by many parties. I welcome the challenge of addressing this issue during my Presidency.” –Peter Mathieson, President and Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hong Kong
Today we have little relationship between the educators and businesses, and as long as this continues, the future for the girls, the women of tomorrow, the status quo of women, will not change. This we cannot afford for anyone. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is progressing at speeds the world has never seen before. And one way or another, it will continue to grow, as will the economic divide within the population, unless something is done and it is started at the beginning.
World Economic Forum (WEF), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), McKinsey Global Institute, McKinsey and Company, UN Women, are a sample of the organizations researching and working on gender equality, and its effects on business and economic growth. OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors have given unprecedented political and policy commitment to accelerating progress towards gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights. There is a lot of work to do and it has started. The business community recognizes it, but it’s starting at the post-secondary level. Let FLiAP help start it at the beginning with the educators.
The McKinsey Global Institute study The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth (September 2016) found that without gender equality, the global economy will suffer. Here are just a few findings of the research:
The World Economic Forum’s study, The Industry Gender Gap Women and Work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (January 2016) also addresses gender equality. Here are 2 areas in particular:
In the Significance of barriers to gender parity graph, notice that unconscious bias among managers is reported by 44% of the respondents. But what would the percentage be if the respondents who weren’t part of the 44%, were aware of their own unconscious biases?
Women in the Workplace 2016 is a comprehensive study between Lean In and McKinsey and Company. This is an American study based on employee data from 132 companies employing 4.6 million people with over 34,000 respondents. Here is just one finding.
McKinsey Global Institute says that CEOs and the private sector can have an impact not only on their female employees but also on participants in their supply chains, distributors, and customers, and on the broader communities in which they work. In the UN’s The World’s Women 2015 Trends and Statistics Report, under Power and decision-making, they write that inequality between women and men tends to be severe and highly visible in power and decision-making arenas. In most societies around the world, women hold only a minority of decision-making positions in public and private institutions, and that women’s representation among corporate managers, legislators and senior officials remains low, with only about half of countries having shares of women in managerial positions of 30 per cent or more, and none reaching or surpassing parity – the “glass ceiling” remains a reality for the vast majority of the world’s women. The World Economic Forum predicts that the Gender Gap will not close until 2186. However FLiAP advocates that this must happen much sooner than a century and a half from now. Likely, it will take more than one or two generations, but surely not until near the end of the next century.