Gender at the crossroads

Numbers fatigue

Yes, I’m getting tired of the constant drop of statistics showing that we are far from gender equality in the workplace. I have to confess that I don’t pay attention to them anymore. We invest much time and effort to obsessively measure female representation again and again, but results are basically telling the same story. I have to admit though that the latest trend, of showing how many years it will take to achieve gender equality at the current pace, is a good one: 50 years in the European Union. This helps to visualize the gap but it is still clearly optimistic: it assumes the current progress rate is sustainable. We have historical series showing that in some countries numbers can fall back, and we also have new evidence that in emerging markets women are turning their eyes towards alternative careers, like public sector jobs. Progress is not a given.

Solved mysteries

I move from fatigue to smile when it comes to those well intentioned people who wonder why we don’t have more women at the top, as it there was something magical going on, a hard mystery to be solved. Well… we have more research than ever regarding women in the workplace. We have meta-analysis showing pervasive leadership stereotypes. We know the impact of motherhood and even how many kids does it take to derail a career. And, of course, we also know everything about women’s psyche and all that stuff about their internal barriers, the bad mother complex and so on. We now have an answer to every mystery and yet we lack the actions to change reality.

Reframing

Maybe it is time to rethink our strategies. The real challenge of our time is economic growth and performance. Current focus of business is to reinvent itself and survive the recession but gender equality and economic reinvention shouldn’t be seen as separate issues. They are indeed the same issue. Any sustainable solution to our current crisis has to come from a different model, and a different leadership. Recovering trust in the system is essential and data show that women are well positioned to be part of the solution in public eyes.

It is true that we all have some sort of gender fatigue and that’s natural because clearly it is no longer about women who don’t fit in the corporate world. It is becoming humans, in general, who don’t fit. We don’t fit with the current schedules and workloads, as it is shown by the increasing number of working fathers who struggle to balance it all, and we don’t fit with the current lack of meaningful jobs which is decreasing engagement levels to a minimum. Definitely is no longer about female representation but economic and society reinvention, and we’d better be all part of the solution.

(*) This article was originally published in 3 Plus International, an online magazine for “women worth knowing” which is worth reading.

About Uxío Malvido

Spanish; based in Paris; working across Europe on Diversity and Inclusion issues.
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