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Is it really equality for all?

View profile for Debbie Sansome
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I could not write this month without recognising what has been filing newspaper columns, the news, social media and even Big Brother! – Equality and the Gender Pay Gap.

Feminism or equality sometimes gets the wrong press, as the word can sometimes sum up images of women fighting men for equality.  However, this is totally wrong.  It is simply about recognising one thing - men and women are equal.

Why is there discrimination, or still unconscious bias, shown between men and women in the twenty first century – 100 years after women won the right to vote.

Men also face unconscious bias in that they are still unconsciously expected to earn enough to support their family, are not supposed to show emotion, are supposed to know how to do enough DIY to re-build a house and are not supposed to enjoy watching a romcom.  But why is this expected of men?

Would we discriminate and only buy something from a bakery if a woman had baked it?

Would we say that some of the most powerful and influential women in the world cannot do their job like Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM and Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard?

Yet the Gender Pay Gap still exists, albeit it is narrowing, it still means that men earn 23% more than women.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency confirmed that finance, insurance, real estate and construction industries have the largest pay gap of all. 

Is this discrimination, or unconscious bias in that these areas have always seen to be a man’s world.

The only industry in that women earn more than men is the modelling industry, which sees women earning 75% more than men.  Is this right?  Why should women earn more than men in this industry?

Years ago, the fight for equality was predominantly fought by women for women – Emmeline Pankhurst to name one prolific person.  However, the right to close the Gender Pay Gap has exploded across the world with both men and women fighting for the same cause.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, stated that the biggest issue facing women in 2017 is the unacceptable stance that gender can still determine opportunities in life, your salary and your career prospects.

Daniel Craig argued that women are responsible for two thirds of the work done worldwide yet earn only 10% of the total income.

Facebook has launched the initiative SheMeansBusiness, with a number of specialist organisations to offer support to women looking to start their own business.  This was after discovering that new businesses, run by women, could contribute an extra £10.1 billion to the UK economy by the end of 2020.  The cynic in me would ask whether the money was the defining factor here – but let us keep positive.

I heard a debate recently on the fact that there are some things women cannot do, or do differently because of their genes.  It was argued that women cannot put up a shelf, cannot saw in a straight line, would have no idea how to bleed a radiator and pick a car based on its colour and look.

I asked myself does this apply to me?  Well, I have put a shelf up (with actual things on it!), the only time I have ever used a saw, I cut the pine straight, I have bled a radiator at home however, I did pick my car on the look of it – but asked a professional opinion on the mechanics of it.  People seek professional opinions of a lawyer on legal matters, a Doctor on health matters, an Accountant on finances - so why wouldn’t I ask, as this applies to men and women.

In the last couple of days, Iceland has become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women and businesses with over 25 employees are required to obtain Government certification for their equal pay policies, or face fines for any inequality – a great step.

Equality for all is not just a woman’s issue – it is quite simply about one thing; achieving equality for all.

A note to leave you with; Hollywood has recognised equality and Minnie Mouse has now found her way onto the Hollywood Star of Fame walkway. Albeit 40 years after Mickey!

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