Sticky Floors, Glass Ceilings & Biased Barriers: the Architecture of Gender Inequality

Scene from the event, “Gender equality: From the Biarritz
Partnership to the Beijing+25 Generation Equality Forum”, hosted
by France and Mexico ahead of the 74th session of the UN General
Assembly, 2019. Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown

By Pedro Conceição
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 6 2020 (IPS)

Architectural metaphors are a popular way to think about
inequality between men and women.

When it comes to the fundamentals, we often talk about whether
there is a “sticky floor” that is holding women and girls back.
And the good news is that, for billions around the world, the floor
is a lot less sticky than it used to be.

Maternal mortality significantly reduced since 1990, and boys
and girls now have equal access to primary school education in most
countries.

But pull away from the sticky floor and many women will hit a
glass ceiling. Or rather glass ceilings. Though the term was
originally used to talk about women’s prospects for advancing in
the workplace, other invisible barriers are a factor in many areas
of life.

And here there is much less progress to celebrate. Consider
politics. Men and women may share the same right to vote in most
countries for example. But under a quarter of parliamentarians are
women. Only one in ten heads of government is female.

But this doesn’t go anywhere near telling the whole story. In
fact, many women face layers of glass – at home, work, education
and beyond – which prevent them from reaching their full
potential.

Break through one ceiling and they invariably find another, more
impenetrable, waiting just above them.

Why is this still happening in 2020?

Part of the answer lies in barriers thrown up by the perceptions
and biases of both women and men around the world. Progress towards
genuine gender inequality will never succeed if people don’t
believe in it.

UNDP’s gender social norms index which uses data from the
World Values Survey and covers 81 percent of the world’s
population, shows clearly that the great majority of citizens in
almost every country – both men and women – do not believe
women and men should enjoy equal opportunities in key areas like
politics or work.

About 50 percent of men and women interviewed across 75
countries, say they think men make better political leaders than
women. More than 40 percent felt that men made better business
executives. And in some countries these attitudes seem to be
deteriorating over time.

Credit: UN Women

Much of this bias seems to be directed at giving women more
power. And indeed, the data shows, time and time again, the greater
the power the greater the bias. Although women work more hours than
men, they are much less likely to be paid for that work.

Women on average do three time more unpaid care work than men.
When they are paid, they earn less than men and they are less
likely to be in management positions – only 6 percent of CEOS in
S&P 500 companies are female.

At the very time when progress is meant to be accelerating to
reach global goals on gender by 2030, it is slowing down in some
areas. The massive improvements in many aspects of gender equality
in recent years show what is possible.

But we now need new approaches to get to grips with the
architecture of inequality. Investing in education, raising
awareness and encouraging women and girls into traditionally male
dominated jobs all have a role to play.

Tackling the invisible barriers of bias could be the game
changer.

The post
Sticky Floors, Glass Ceilings & Biased Barriers: the
Architecture of Gender Inequality
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of special IPS coverage of
International Women’s Day on March 8 2020

 

Pedro Conceição is Director of the Human
Development Report Office, UNDP

The post
Sticky Floors, Glass Ceilings & Biased Barriers: the
Architecture of Gender Inequality
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Sticky Floors, Glass Ceilings & Biased Barriers: the Architecture of Gender Inequality