Monday, October 11, 2010

Does our culture let women down?

There’s been a lot of talk in the media recently about the pay gap between men and women. In some respects the discourse is confusing – often people say that the type of work women choose is the problem i.e. they go into low paid areas of work. In that case then like for like isn’t being compared – I thought the equal pay issues were about a man and woman who do the same job and the man gets paid more not that women on a whole earn less than men. Is my reading right here?

Anyway, if the issue is that women tend to take lower paying jobs and don’t push themselves forward then perhaps our culture has a lot to do with women being paid less. Let me explain.

I’ve lived about half my life here and half in Jamaica – two very different cultures. Now there are probably disparities in pay in Jamaica – but it seemed to me that proportionately more women there were in senior positions earning a sizeable chunk of change – myself included. Jamaican women are not shy and their husbands and boyfriends on the whole, expect their wives and girlfriends to work and to prosper – either for themselves or in business. They also expect and want them to be well rounded intelligent women who can hold their own. Admittedly, Jamaicans have housekeepers (called helpers) so both men and women have less to do around the house but in general things seem to work well in terms of equality.

Most other English women I encounter on the other hand are super traditional and very timid. And their husbands and boyfriends have a very condescending attitude towards women which the women often seem to back up. When I ask English women what their interests are they will generally say they don’t have any and the next most popular reply is ‘my kids and husband/boyfriend/ clothes or shopping – the stereotypical options. English women are ultra timid about speaking up, going bright red if they have to even say something in a meeting and they (in my experience) don’t like to push themselves forward for responsibility.

English women often act like they are vapid (or maybe they are), in need of assistance to do the simplest things and don’t exhibit much interest in weighty issues but cling to the trivial and demeaning (Jordan’s love life instead of the effects of the cut in child tax benefits).

I’m not saying it’s our fault but I am saying we aren’t helping much. Don’t the ladies that gave their life so that we could vote and those Dagenham ladies who went on strike for the equal pay act deserve better from us? Don’t we deserve better? Don’t our daughters?


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Gwyneth Harold said...

Wow, that is not good at all. Culture holding them back.

Anil kumar prasad said...