Gender Inequality

by Michael McDonnell

The Irish constitution enacted in 1937 states that:

“1° the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

These declarations, though strongly criticised, are still in place today. I feel they give a good indication of the traditional Catholic views that influenced the policies of the state at its inception. The Ireland of today is quite different. In a 2014 survey by The World Economic Forum, Ireland was ranked 8th out of 142 countries on the global gender gap. This is calculated by examining the pay, health, education, and economic and political participation. As of 2013, 47% of workers are female, making up 55% of women. Half of women with children are working.

However, there are still many problems regarding gender inequality to be addressed. On average women are paid 12.6% less than men and women hold only 30% of managerial roles. Fewer than 20% of directors of large corporations are women.

One way Ireland is trying to address the gender imbalance is through the use of quotas. Currently, women only make up 19.4% of the Irish parliament placing Ireland 23rd out of the 27 EU member states for the representation of women in government. In 2012, legislation was enacted that required all political parties to ensure that women made up 30% of all candidates put forward in the next General Election and 40% within 7 years of that. Parties in breach of this quota risk having their government funding cut by half.

As no general election has occurred since been called since this legislation was enacted it remains to be seen what effect this will have on Irish politics. Much in the same way that quotas in business attempt to put women in managerial roles rather than just as board members, commentators have criticised the policy for not affecting local and regional elections. Women make up just 17% of local government bodies, where traditionally, politicians get their start and work towards the national legislature.

Japan is a lot like Ireland in the way it has seen the role of women in society, as a caregiver in the home. Japan has however been slower to address the gender gap in its society. Currently women make up just 1.2% of executives of Japanese companies and just 11% of the members of the Lower House of Parliament. Japanese Prime Minister Abe has set a goal to increase the number of women in executive positions in Japanese companies to 30% by 2020. This is not a legally binding directive but he has promised tax incentives for companies who reach the quota and has promised to increase the number of day care places and the length of family leave available to entice women to come back to work after having children. At the moment around 70% of women leave employment once they start a family.

A report from the Japanese Gender Equality Bureau in 2011 recommended the adoption of gender quotas in the political system and it was accepted by the cabinet. However, the report was non-binding and did not set specific quota levels.

Abe has said that “Women are Japan’s most underused resource,” and while Japan seems to be correcting this underutilisation it seems to be proceeding at a slower pace to other developed countries and to be missing the important issue of gender balance in political representation.

References

Buckley, F. 2013. Ireland offers an example of the way in which gender quotas can be implemented in national parliaments. EUROPP. Available at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/11/29/ireland-serves-as-an-example-for-the-way-in-which-gender-quotas-can-be-implemented-in-national-parliaments/

Covert, B. 2014. Japan Sets Ambitious Goal For Increasing Women In Executive Suites. [online] Thinkprogress.org. Available at: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/01/02/3111731/japan-women-boards-goal/

Global Gender Gap | World Economic Forum. 2014. Global Gender Gap. Available at: http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap#

Independent.ie. 2014. Gender equality is still a problem in many Irish board rooms – Independent.ie. Available at: http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/gender-equality-is-still-a-problem-in-many-irish-board-rooms-30527067.html

Ryan, S. 2014. Irish system has failed to provide higher number of women TDs: Taoiseach. TheJournal.ie. Available at: http://www.thejournal.ie/irish-system-has-failed-to-provide-higher-number-of-women-tds-taoiseach-332522-Jan2012/

Sanchanta, M. and Koh, Y. 2014. Japan Ponders Quotas for Women in Politics. WSJ. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304569504576403401964052630

Taylor, C. 2014. Ireland ranked in eighth place in gender gap rankings. Irish Times. Available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/work/ireland-ranked-in-eighth-place-in-gender-gap-rankings-1.1979254

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The Care Crisis and Role of Gender in the Philippines

Anonymous student post

I once saw this website that catered to parents looking for child minders. What fascinated me the most was the fact that most of them specifically asked for a Filipina. After seeing this, I did not know whether we Filipinos were seen as very good carers, or whether hiring Filipinas as opposed to non-Filipinos was cheaper.

I know my mother was one before and like the people interviewed by Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, my mother left me while I was still young to work abroad. Reading the extract from Parreñas’s book, I can relate to everyone’s experiences; however, I mostly identified myself with Ellen who despite the lack of a motherly figure in her life turned out to be fine. It wasn’t easy for our family, but I never felt any sense of abandonment from my mother. Of course, as Parreñas mentions, not everyone is an Ellen and I do agree with that. I’ve met countless of people like me who were also left to the care of others by their parents at a young age to work abroad, and like Jeek in Parreñas’s book, they experienced emotional insecurity.

The lack of a mother figure in the family is seen as the cause of emotional insecurity because mothers are seen as the one who is in charge of child rearing. What I found intriguing the most in Parreñas’ work was how the Philippine government blames these migrant mothers for this “crisis of care” and even called for their return home.

I recently read an article by WEF about how the Philippines are 9th in the world in gender equality. Growing up in the Philippines, I can say that compared to other countries like Japan we definitely are more gender-equal. Women fare better in education and literacy, it’s also quite common to for women to hold top positions in the workplace and they also hold political positions.

On the other hand, we’re not fully gender-equal.Women are still being blamed for rape and infidelity.There still exist this idea of women having the traditional domestic role. Child rearing is still seen as a mother’s responsibility and not both parents’. Even if both parents are working, the mother is expected to take care of the children.

Relating this to what Parreñas wrote, the Philippine government pointing fingers at migrant mothers reflects how the Philippines still has this gender ideology that a “woman’s rightful place is in the home”. Instead of casting the blame to these women who are not only helping their families but also the economy, shouldn’t the government do their part first?

In the first place, these mothers only left either because there were no jobs available for them or their wages weren’t enough to sustain the family. These are issues that should be answered by the government and not caused by being a “bad mother”. Instead of asking migrant mothers to return, the government should give support to the children who were left behind.They could give support in their education or even providing some means of communication for transnational families. Maybe in that way we can eradicate the idea of stay-at-home mothers is the model of a good mother.

As I mentioned before, there is gender equality in the Philippines but there still a lot of work that needs to be done to be a fully gender equal country.

Family communication and gender equality

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Hitoshi Haruki

In this class, I’m reading Precarious Japan by Anne Allison, and I was surprised at the many problems in Japan. In this book, it was established that there will be many problems in Japan in the future such as hikikomori, the rise of people who do a part-time job and do not work as a full-time employee, and dying alone. I would like to consider Japan’s future in this post.

First of all, Allison says that dying alone is one of the most severe problems in Japan. I think there are a lot of causes of dying alone. Especially when people have weak connections. Due to the spread of the Internet, people have imaginary friends. They make friends on the Internet. They always stay home and use the Internet. They cannot do face-to-face communication. They cannot even communicate with their family and do not have strong connection which lead to dying alone. The solution of this problem is that people have more opportunities to do face-to-face communication. To prevent dying alone, it is important to communicate with one’s own family. For example, people should always have a meal with their family and talk about their daily lives. If I get married, I will keep in mind the importance of face-to-face communication. I want to live in a loving home.

Allison also mentions there is the problem of women’s status. In Japan people thought men were to work for a company while women were to do housework in the past. This tendency still remains in some measure. For example it is easier for men to work as a full-time worker than women because many women are likely to cease work when they get married. Married women are expected to raise talented children whom will have graduated from a high level university, so they have to devote themselves to raise their children. In my opinion, not only women should raise children but also men should as well because men are also responsible for raising children. Moreover, raising children is hard labor, so men should help women. For example, when men take the day off, they take care of the children. In my plan, if I have children, I want to work together with my wife.

In conclusion, I want to have strong connections with people and have a loving home. To reach this, I should try to achieve a high level of face-to-face communication. Furthermore, when raising children, women should not only be the one to raise children, but men should also help as well because raising children is very difficult. Personally I think our future is bright, though there are still many problems we will have to face in the future.

References

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Care Crisis at the Core of Gender Non-Equality

by Anna Dreveau

As Rhacel Salazar Parreñas notices in her chapter, “The Care Crisis in the Philippines,” a “crisis of care” is striking developed and developing countries.

As women in developed countries tend to a more masculine position, i.e. a career-oriented job instead of her traditional mother role. Those both income household generally let their children without any family care anymore. Indeed, the traditional gender roles are as such: the father is away from home, working as the family breadwinner and the mother stay at home, taking care of domestic labor and childcare. Those views are still contemporary, even in some developed countries, such as Japan.

However, in most Western societies, roles tend to become more gender-neutral. Does that mean that former female and male-specific role’s work share is equally divided ? That both parents manage to contribute to childcare and work ?

Alas, it was not the path paved by those claiming for a more gender egalitarian society. Wanted to be able to have a professional career, women did achieve to get it, but the load of work of their “mother role” did not decrease. Therefore, two options are offered: either being a “supermom”, being able to achieve both career and family life or simply abandon the task of taking care of the children to someone else, because of obvious lack of time.

As Parreñas observed, to respond to this demand of caretakers, women from developing countries, such as the Philippines, came to those families to be hired to take care of their children, leaving their own children back in their mother countries, generally in the custody of relatives.
The initially from-developed-country care deficit is thus moving into developing countries, through the process of global care chain. And quite similarly to developed countries, women gain the status of the main income earner of the family, getting the respect from this position within the family. Still, the buck is passed to those transnational mothers by mass media or local government as they are seen to have abandon their most important and initial role: being here and taking care of the children. Even though Parreñas’ examples can overcome the “not taking care of the children” part (as they do so as a “long-distance supermom”), their absence is undeniable.

Nevertheless, the real absent one in family life that can be observed in both developed and developing countries seems to be the father. Even though the father’s role is considered important even in gender non-egalitarian society, they are not relied on when the mother is away as other relatives or even elder siblings are preferred, as Parreñas’ interviewees testified. It would be unjust to claim that in Western countries, families do not rely on fatherhood as those societies became increasingly aware of both parenting’s benefits. Still, even those rely more on motherhood to raise children: as an example, when a couple get a divorce, this is easier for the mother to get custody for the child(ren) than it is for the father.

Getting more gender equality do not mean getting women at the same standards than men, but creating middle standards in which both gender can fit equally. Dividing work and family life more equally is one of the solution, but the most important thing to get rid of is those sexist expectations that just build the gender non-egalitarian societies around the world.

One-Way Gender Equality

Cover of "Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, a...

Cover via Amazon

by Glenn Soenvisen

Gender equality is indeed important in these post-modern times. Women should have the same wages as men if their job is the same; salaries for women-dominated work should be equal to that of men-dominated work; women should have equal opportunity to participate in the society and workforce. At least in the First World, few would dispute that this should be an inherent right of women, and they are right to do so. However, why is it that gender equality is almost always about women gaining the rights of men? We hardly ever hear about the fight for men to have parental leave, or for working in traditional women’s occupations without prejudice. In a sense, we can say that the ongoing contemporary gender “equality” aims to make women into traditional men instead of making a neuter gender of both men and women, which is the actual goal we aim for. This has consequences both nationally and internationally.

When speaking about the First World, we can say that as a result of the above-mentioned one-way gender equalization we undermine some essential human qualities. Ehrenreich and Hochschild’s “Global Woman” puts it this way:

“It is as if the wealthy parts of the world are running short on precious emotional… resources and have to turn to poorer regions for fresh supplies.”

While women are taking advantage of their retrieved inherent rights, that is, taking higher education, entering the men-dominated workforce, living freely and independently and more, who is going to take care of the house, children and elderly population? Fewer women do, and there’s no significant increase among men either. Furthermore, family relationships may be difficult to retain since the prevailing thought seems to be that one of the two in a relationship must relinquish their inherited rights to stay at home and keep the family going. For a woman it is easier to relinquish her rights because that’s the way it has been, but she doesn’t always want to, and now she increasingly doesn’t have to. For the man it’s hard to do because the system and society doesn’t always allow him – and if he doesn’t want to it’s no problem, because that’s the way it has been. In such a way carework has become an “either/or-”situation; there is no neuter gender role where it can be “both/and.”

However, this does not mean that we do not want relationships, so we turn to nannies and maids, and we pay for their love and care. For this to work though, these people have to earn less than their employers, as is only logical. For the native people who have the opportunity for higher salaries it is not so tempting maybe, but for people living in poorer countries this is a goldmine. The women in the Philippines have noticed this, so in order to support their families many leave their children and husband behind and go abroad to do the care work we in the First World don’t have time for, or rather, no room for. In fact, the women are so many that the Philippines government itself relies to a great deal on the remittances they send home. All the same, there is still a negative pattern to be seen here: nannies and maids earn less than their employers, and the remittances to their family back in the Philippines are even less (after all, the careworkers abroad have to spend money to take care of themselves in the country where they’re working), and the family uses the said remittance to buy food and other necessities in shops where it’s employees earn even less. It’s a downward spiral.

In short, as a result of a one-way gender equalization, namely making women into men, we have not only estranged ourselves from essential human qualities such as love and care, we also help to make a transnational network which might not be very beneficial in the long run. True, it looks quite beneficial on the surface: women in the Philippines take on a male breadwinner role by doing traditional women’s work abroad, and they support their family as well as their country’s economy. Underneath, however, lies the truth that we are only moving the problems around, we are not solving them: firstly, the Philippines becomes a factory sending out careworkers, women who gives love to our children and money to theirs. Secondly, while the care workers abroad might be breadwinners, the gender roles in the home country are likely to remain the same. Lastly, The First World outsources human values so that its people can be free and work like machines, because that’s the traditional man’s role, today’s gender equality. From an economical perspective this might be beneficial, but from an emotional one it’s disastrous.

References

Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Arlie Russell Hochschild, ed. 2002. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy. New York: Metropolitan.

Gender Equality Solutions a Problem in Korean Workforce

by Ji Soo Kim

Recovering from Japanese colonization and the Korean War, under the strong U.S influence, the Republic of Korea displayed an amazing yet abrupt economical development throughout the 20th century. Due to the traditional Confucian belief of “men are superior to women, who are expected to attend to men’s every need,” the social status of women in Korea before Western influence was significantly low. As the Western ideology of gender equality permeated in Korean society, educated men lifted their voice to give equal rights to women, and women shouted for their rights.

Beginning with women’s suffrage in 1948, the social and governmental movement for women’s rights rapidly settled in society. As a result, women in Korea now seem to have equal rights under the protection of the whole society. However, the process of achieving gender equality was done too abruptly. People do not understand the true definition of gender equality, thus real problems regarding gender have not been solved in many parts of society, and men are claiming their feelings of reverse discrimination. In this article, I will specifically talk about gender equality issues in workforce, and suggest better solutions to current activities for improvement.

The Korean government set laws and encouraged businesses to protect women from being discriminated against in employment, and in the workplace. An example of the law is that an employer should not consider female employee’s physical looking, or ask about marriage status, which are unnecessary in work performance. Businesses were encouraged to increase female welfare in the company, to provide long maternal leave, menstrual leave, shuttle bus system for safe return to home, anonymous telephone line for accusation of any sexual discrimination, powder rooms and lounges only for women, and extra financial support for child care. An example of Korean company known for fine female welfare is Hyundai Motors. It is one of the most popular businesses where young women wish to be employed. However, uncongenial to its high reputation, women employees consist only 4.3% of the entire company. Why is the women employee proportion considerably low while the company provides satisfying welfare for women? Looking around the young graduates around me, I also see many who wish to be employed by Hyundai Motors, which means that there are sufficient, and even an overflow of applicants.

One valid reason for low constitution of female employees in Hyundai Motors could be employers’ unwillingness to employ women. The cost of hiring a woman in their workforce is much higher compared to that of hiring a man, since they have to provide all different kinds of welfare. If there is a man and a woman in interview with almost the same quality and potential, even if I was an employer, I would choose man not because I am discriminating against woman, but for cost reduction. This possible reason is suggesting that current welfare system is designed just to satisfy the wants of the government and the society, and this is ineffective because it shows a decline of women employment in some business sectors and discourages younger unemployed women to aim for these businesses.

The society demands female welfare because we are taught that women must have ‘equal’ rights to men, and that women had not been treated ‘equally’ in past. With such excessive focus on women, not many people clearly come to understand the true meaning of gender equality. The majority focused only on present discrimination against women around us. The law protected women first, and businesses started to provide immoderate welfares for women, and there’s no specific word as ‘male welfare.’

In workplaces, to stop employer’s unconscious thinking of preferring man over woman for cost reduction, not only female welfare but also male welfare should be considered thoughtfully. Excessive focus on women empowerment in workforce created current system. Companies should concern men and women together and provide what is needed for each fairly. Increase in paternal leave, provision of comfortable lounge for men, or provision of children’s kindergarten in father’s company could be possible solutions. Concern for both men and women in work places would make both willing to work for longer period with loyalty, and lead to better understanding of each other. The change in work places would result in a bigger change in the entire society. Starting with work places, a deep knowledge and discussion about gender equality should be taught and held in public education system. The society would not be able to change at once, but with the effort of current generation, the future generation will grow up with much improvement.