Gender Inequality in Education and Workplace Essay
The role of women in the total human capital of the world is significant, particularly in the state of the severe shortage of talent faced by most of countries year by year. Therefore, it is highly necessary to improve more and more the empowerment and the education level of women and girls to utilize the female talent, and increase the total outcome of the world economy in the end. Based on this basic idea, the World Economic Forum has been publishing annually the Global Gender Gap Report where the magnitude of gender disparities has been quantified and the progress of the countries around the world in terms of this issue has been tracked over time.
In the Global Gender Gap Report 2012 (Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi, 2012), four fundamental pillars (subindexes) including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment are considered to examine the gap between men and women. For each subindex, there are different types of gaps measured by the various ratios.
Specifically, in the economic participation and opportunity category, the ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income and the wage equality for similar work measures the remuneration gap between men and women, while the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers as well as the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers is used to capture the advancement gap of women and men.
In educational attainment, the ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education were calculated to estimate the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education, while the ability of the country in a longer-term view to educate women and men in equal numbers is measured by the ratio of the literacy rate of female to male. According to the Report, the process of constructing the rankings of indexes includes four steps.
Firstly, all data are converted to female/male ratios that means if the number of women in ministerial positions of a country accounts for 20% of the total number, then a ratio (variable) of 0. 25 (20 women/ 80 men) will be assigned to the gap in ministerial positions. Secondly, these ratios are compared to the “equality benchmark” which is assumed be 1, meaning equal numbers of women and men, apart from the two health variables, the sex ratio at birth variable and the healthy life expectancy, which this equality benchmark is set to be 0. 944 and 1. 06 respectively.
Thirdly, the weighted average of the variables within each subindex which ensures that each variable has the same relative impact on the subindex is calculated to create the subindex scores. Finally, the overall Global Gender Gap Index score is determined by an un-weighted average of each subindex score. As a result, in both cases of all subindexes and each separate subindex, the highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest possible one is 0 (inequality) that allows for the comparisons relative to ideal standards of equality as well as relative country rankings.
In the year 2012, 135 countries were conducted in the Report, however since the objective of this paper is emphasizing on gender inequality in education and workplace, only the score ranking of the economic participation and opportunity and the educational attainment is mentioned. Particularly, “all Nordic countries reached 99-100% literacy for both sexes several decades ago and display gender parity at both primary- and secondary-level education. At the tertiary level, in addition to very high levels of enrolment for both women and men, the gender gap has been reversed and women now make up the majority of the high-skilled workforce”.
However, in terms of the educational attainment subindex, regionally, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean are the first positions respectively, following by Europe and Central Asia. The Nordic countries are also leaders in maximizing the returns from the investments to close the gender gap in education that all five countries (Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark) are among the top 30 of the economic participation and opportunity subindex.
Nevertheless, in the consideration of regional performance on this subindex, Europe and Central Asia holds only the second position, after North America, the Middle East and North Africa ranks the lowest one. On average, 93 percent of the gap in educational attainment and 60 percent of that in economic participation has been closed. 2 The causes and effects of gender gap in education and workplace 2. 1 Gender inequality in education The goal 2 and goal 3 of the eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015 are “Achieve universal primary education” and “Promote gender equality and empower women” respectively (United Nations, n. d. ).
Therefore, it is clearly seen that the issue of gender equality in education plays a very important role in improving the quality of life as well as the progress of society, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries where the access to education or the quality of education between girls and boys has been far from the standard benchmark. Specifically, Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East and North Africa are the regions have the lowest scores in the performance on the educational attainment subindex (Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi, 2012). The question raised is why there is such a gender inequality in education in those regions.
In general, the gender gap in education and the low level of girls’ educational participation and performance is affected by supply and demand factors associated with the ways these factors interact with the policy, economic and socio-cultural environments. On the one hand, supply side is the availability of schools offered either by the state or by the religious and private groups that fit the special needs of girls, while demand side is how girls and their families utilize this availability through considering the balance of direct costs of schooling (e.
g. fees, uniforms, transport, books) and of opportunity costs of education to the family (Abu-Ghaida, 2004). On the other hand, some other factors influencing directly on the gender gap in education includes: – The poverty: the poverty of a country makes the Ministry of Education’s budget under the pressure in offering schools more accessible to girls as well as educational programs with free or low fees, while the poverty of a household prevents the parents from covering all the direct costs of schooling (as mentioned above) for all their children.
In this case, large rural families are more likely to give priority in education to boys if they have more girls and boys since according to the traditional division of labour, the girls are able to cope with larger amount of domestic chores as well as low-paid jobs available in the market, therefore the opportunity costs of sending girls to the school are often higher than those of boys for the family (Al-Mekhlafy, 2008).
– Socio-cultural and religious norms: this factor influences significantly the attitudes of the community as well as the family to the roles of girls and women in family and society. One of the negative conception which puts a lower value on educating girls than on educating boys is the role of women associated rather with housework, caring for children, ill or old members of the family than being educated or joining the labour market to earn a living.
In terms of religious norms, for example in Islamic culture, certain attitudes and traditions regarding to family honour, the modesty and safety of girls and women prevent them from education that eventually causing the resistance to sending girls to schools away from home and the pressures on girls to marry at an early age. Similarly, in the Middle East, Muslim women are considered by the society as wives and mothers (King and Hill, 1993). – Non-majority ethnic groups and rural areas: on the one hand, rural areas
often have no school or very few schools far away from home which makes it more costly and risky for village girls to daily commute to school, therefore influencing on the participation rate of girls in education (King and Hill, 1993). On the other hand, girls in the non-majority ethnic groups, for example in Viet Nam, not only face the difficulty in learning Vietnamese language at schools but also tend to do housework twice the amount of boys (e. g. the Hmong) such as caring for siblings, doing household chores, collecting wood and water, and caring the buffalo (Baker and Wiseman, 2009).
By contrast, the schooling of women has significant social and economic benefits, especially in developing countries. In the aspect of social benefits, for example, the infant mortality can be reduced by 5 to 10 percent by a year of schooling for girls, while the fertility rate is declined from 5. 3 to 3. 9 children per woman when doubling the proportion of women with secondary schooling. There is also an evidence of the educated women having a greater impact on children’s schooling and knowledge than the educated men in the role of primary caregivers.
Across the countries, in Uganda, the young rural girls with secondary schooling are three times less likely to be HIV positive; similarly, in India, women with formal schooling are more likely to resist violence and in Bangladesh, the number of participants being educated women is three times more likely to join in political meeting (Patrinos, 2008). For economic benefits, many empirical studies shows that the more women achieve a high-quality education, the higher the cognitive skills learned by them, then the more they will enter the labour market leading the higher the employment rate, as a result, the
higher both the return of government’s investment on education and the outcome of the economy (Hanushek, 2008). Specifically, by the assumption that the other things keep constant, if one year of schooling is added, the output of the world economy as a whole will increase by around 2% (Barro and Lee, 2010). Alternatively, one estimated that if everything else was equal, and the ratio of girls’ to boys’ enrolment in primary or secondary education in one country was less than 0.
75, its GNP could be approximately 25 percent lower than the countries in which there is a higher level of gender parity. On overall, the country might be expected to lose an average of 0. 4 percentage point between 2005 and 2015 if off-tracking in female primary and secondary school enrollment (Grown, Gupta, Kes (2005)). Dollar (1999) also found that “in the countries with higher initial education, an increase of 1 percentage point in the share of adult women with secondary school education implies an increase in per capita income growth of 0.
3 percentage points”. 2. 2 Gender inequality in workplace As shown in the Global Gender Gap Report 2012, so far the gender inequality in workplace has been persisting elsewhere under many different forms. – Firstly, gender segregation, in other words, the sexual division of labour means the assignment of different tasks to women and men, however, this kind of division varies over time and across the countries of the world.
For instance, on the contrary to the Middle East, North Africa, and India where most tailors are male, they are female in more industrialized countries. Another example is that most of hairdressers and barbers in the OECD countries are female, while in India or China, they are male. About half of the maids and housekeepers in Angola and India, in comparison to one-third of those in Tunisia, Ghana, and Senegal are male, while this ratio is only approximately one-sixth of those in worldwide (Padavic and Reskin, 2002). –
Secondly, gender differences in promotions and authority show that although on average, women have the same promotion advantage as men do, there always exists an invisible ceiling, so-called glass ceiling, which disadvantages some workers in a way that if looking at the tails of occupational distribution, more good jobs are associated with men than women though both genders are distributed across the range of good and bad jobs. Furthermore, the top levels in the organization or the highest ranks in most occupations and professions are more likely hold by men. –
Thirdly, gender differences in earnings happen over time around the world. The specialist De Meyer of ILO (International Labour Organization) said that traditionally female jobs were often paid less because they were women. For example, the motor mechanics, a male-dominated job, are paid more than nurses who are mostly women though nursing should be paid higher in terms of required skills, working conditions and responsibility (ILO, 2013). In United States, nowadays, the full-time and a year-around working woman still earns just 77 cents for every dollar paid for a man.
This kind of gender gap puts the women who make up nearly half of the workforce, in the long-term career disadvantage since they bring their family less money every day, and for themselves, far less savings for retirement over a lifetime of work (White House). According to one statistic in 1997, among the elderly, 13 percent of women versus 7 percent of men were in poverty. In addition, it is more likely for men than women to be offered health insurance and other benefits (Padavic and Reskin, 2002).
So, why are there these types of gender inequality in workplace? So far, there have been many explanations for this question, such as gender ideology, the efforts of the dominant men groups in workforce to preserve the beneficiaries for them, the own decisions of the employers as well as discrimination at work place. – The gender ideology is defined as “a set of widely shared assumptions about the way the sexes are and what the relations between them are and ought to be” (Padavic and Reskin, 2002).
The gender ideology includes both norms of the ways people are expected to behave and sex stereotypes which are the beliefs shared socially that link various traits, attributes, and skills with one sex or the other. On the one hand, the norms assume that men, as the real breadwinners, deserve priority for high-paying jobs, while women, as the real domestic workers, don’t need to invest in acquiring skills, but men. As a result of this, the employers of organizations tend not only to
offer more skilled jobs for men than women, which in turn imply that men should be received higher payment than women, but also not to provide promotion opportunities for women and not to assign them to positions where turnover might be a problem. On the other hand, “common sex stereotypes assume that men are naturally more rational, aggressive, and stronger and that women are more emotional, passive, and nurtured.
For example, 60 percent of Americans believe that women are naturally better suited than men are to caring for children” (Padavic and Reskin, 2002). Since this kind of stereotypes is habitual and automatic, it influences very much on the thinking about who should do what kind of work of everyone in the society, such as prospective workers, customers, and the people who hire workers, assign them to jobs, and set their pay. – The second explanation for gender inequality in workplace implies that the dominant groups try to preserve the advantages of them.
Although not all men do consider women as threats, some of them have a fear that the participation of women in paid jobs might leave fewer job vacancies available for them, the female workers can even outperform them on the job, and therefore the employers can lower payment for that job. In addition, if women can takes “macho” jobs which are more suitable for men such as coal mining, police work, truck driving, and construction, the male workers’ masculinity coming from this kind of jobs will be taken away.
Some men also worry that the prestige of their work will be lower by the presence of female co-workers. In the end, if the earnings were the same for both genders and the women had as much authority at work, they could insist on greater equality in the family, the community, and national political life. – The actions of the employers in enterprise in recruitment processes as well as in personnel arrangements can explain well the gender inequality in workplace. It is clear that the number of female workers as well as to what extent the gender inequality existing at work relies very much on the
decisions of employers who hire workers, assign them to jobs, decide whom to promote, and how much to pay. The gender inequality in business is made by employers primarily through offering only some jobs to women and excluding them from others. The reasons for this different treatment to female and male workers are either conscious or unconscious biases toward women or the belief of the employers on the profitability of the firm in the long run if fewer women are employed. One typical and practical example to explain this kind of bias toward women by employers is pregnancy period of them.
Female workers are more likely taking time off for pregnant in her career time and enjoying maternity leave benefits, in the end, this can cause the discontinuity and the high cost for business operation because of new employee and new training period needs to be happened to replace that vacant position. As well as gender inequality in education, gender inequality in workplace wastes human capital’s resources and therefore lowers the total productivity for both the individual corporation and the whole economy.
For example, around 58 percent of the university graduates in Australia are women but only 67 percent of working aged women is currently in paid work in comparison to 78 percent of men. Similarly, another research also found that if the female workforce participation increases by 6 percent, the Australian economy has the potential to get more $25 billion each year. Alternatively, the World Economic Forum has also found that “a nation’s competitiveness depends, among other things, on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female talent” (WGEA, n. d. ).
3 The solutions to shorten gender gap in education and workplace 3. 1 A comparable approach of the interventions to increase gender parity in primary and secondary education While all Nordic countries reached 99-100% literacy for both sexes several decades ago and display gender parity in both primary- and secondary-level education, the developing countries around the world still struggles with efforts to eliminate gender disparity in this segment. A research shows that if the costs of education are low and its quality is reasonable, most parents will educate daughters at least at a basic level, even where the
barriers from cultural norms are strong. Therefore, a comprehensive package of policies and programs made by the local governments should be concentrated in four areas as following to increase the female participation in primary school as well as in secondary school (Herz and Sperling, 2004): – Making schooling for girls more affordable by decreasing school fees and offering targeted scholarships. For example, in Asian countries such as China, Korea, and Sri Lanka, the evidence shows that the enrolment rate rose after school fees were reduced.
Similarly, in Tanzania, the girls’ attendance in primary schools was doubled after the elimination of fees, while in Bangladesh, after the national best-known scholarship program for stipends for girls applied, the girls’ enrolments rose from 27 percent to 44 percent in pilot areas. – Providing schools close to girls’ homes with flexible schedules in a way that encourages the support from the community and the involvement of the parents since in parts of Asia and Africa, girls are simply not allowed to attend distant schools.
For example, in India, if the distance to primary school increases marginally, the probability of a girl to enrol in school declines by 1-2 percentage points. In Egypt, one study also found that the construction of new schools and the provision of teachers were associated with the large increase of girls’ enrolments in rural primary schools in the period between 1980s and 1990s. Likewise, one program in Mali provided to encourage and support local community schools boosted overall girls’ enrolment by 67 percent as well as the number of 7-year-old girls’ enrolment into primary school by 83 percent from 1989 to 1993.
Another program in early childhood development and parental training in Nepal increased the attendance of girls in schools as well. – Making schools more girl-friendly by ensuring that schools protect girls’ privacy and safety (such as providing the latrines in schools for girls), meet cultural requirements and promote girls’ attendance (for example permitting the participation of married adolescents). The studies both in Pakistan and African countries demonstrated that private toilet facilities for girls were important to encourage them to attend schools.
– Improving the quality of education for girls through a well-designed curriculum, educated and trained teachers as well as good textbooks so that both parents and girls themselves believe that this level education is necessary and useful for them. Few studies found that 90 percent of the people illustrated in textbooks were male and they were described as leaders, fighters, or soldiers, but as breast-feeders or pretty for girls; therefore changing the content of textbooks in a way to reduce gender stereotyping is necessary.
In addition, the training programs in terms of gender sensitivity for teachers and administrators in some countries in Africa were applied to encourage girls to participate in schools, while in South Asia, the participation of female teachers helps to increase the enrolments of girls as well. 3. 2 The policy responses of European Union countries to reduce the gender pay gap Since 1999, reducing the gender pay gap, an important topic on the European political agenda, has been a part of the European employment strategy and policy responses have
intensified for many years. The labour force participation rates for women the Nordic countries, which provide generous benefits to parents on leave about 80 percent of pre-leave wages, are among the highest in the world; salary gaps between women and men are also among the lowest in the world since the policies in these countries have encouraged actively parents to combine work and family, increased male participation in childcare and in domestic chores, promoted the employment of women, therefore the female employment participation rate has been rising significantly.
The policies in these countries consist of both the mandatory paternal and the maternity leave, generous federally mandated parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives and post-maternity re-entry programmes (Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi, 2012). Typically, Sweden develops fully family work reconciliation policies, for example public childcare available for all children so that the parents can return to work as soon as the children are enrolled in a childcare facility after their first year.
The flexibility of working hours helps the mothers work part-time when their children are so young, however not like in the other countries (such as Japan), the part-time work is offered the same benefits as the fulltime one; it is also easy for employees to transit from the part-time work to the full-time one. Furthermore, since 1995, the Swedish government has introduced “Daddy leave”, an extra childcare leave only eligible for fathers and being initially originated from Norway, to incentivize them to take time off work (Estevez-Abe, 2013).
In general, the European Union countries have different policy initiatives to limit the gender inequality in workplace, particularly the gender pay gap. However, in principle, these policy responses can be categorized into three lines (European Commission, 2006): – Equal pay policies refer to the equal pay legislation and anti-discrimination laws aiming at dealing with direct or indirect gender wage discrimination.
The obligations on employers regarding to their remuneration policy imposed by European legislation and European jurisdiction mention that the employer must apply the same evaluation criteria to all staff; the criteria applied must be separated from the discriminatory elements and take into account the nature and type of work; the remuneration arrangements must be understandable and transparent as well. Nevertheless, depending on the effectiveness of the enforcement of the legislation, the effect of equal pay legislation on the gender pay gap can be different across the countries.
For example, in Germany, the main problem is the extent to which it is possible to compare jobs on the basis of common and objective criteria while the rules of procedures for the application of the principle of pay equity are missing as well. – Equal opportunities policies, which are to increase childcare facilities, aim at encouraging women to have continuous employment patterns, and de-segregating employment by gender since an uninterrupted career because of childcare is still a significant factor influencing the overall gender pay gap.
Again, it can be seen clearly that the availability and affordability of childcare varies largely over the EU member states. For instance, while the childcare is considered as a social right and offered at highly public subsidised prices in a few countries, it is supplied only through the private market at high prices in other countries. Alternatively, the policies in terms of parental leaves are also an important part to achieve equal opportunities for women.
However, it is very important to notice that these policies should be imposed to balance the positive effect of rising the relative earnings of women by keeping them connected to the labour market or the particular firms when the leave is short and the negative side of lowering the female participation rate and damaging future career paths when the leave is too long. Moreover, the leave should be equally divided between men and women. For example, the maternity and parental leave has been expanded since 2002 in Denmark.
Specifically, “the mother is entitled to four weeks’ leave before the birth of a child, and has a compulsory absence of two weeks’ leave after the birth; following this period she is entitled to 12 weeks’ leave; meanwhile the father is entitled to 2 weeks’ paid paternity leave during the first 14 weeks after the birth of a child. Subsequently, each parent is entitled to 32 weeks of parental leave which under the agreement with their employer, they can claim whenever they wish until the child is 9 years old.
– Wage policies are to reduce wage inequality and revaluate the remuneration of low-paid and/or female-dominated jobs, including the policy to set a floor to the general wage structure, the so-called mandatory minimum wage, as well as the one to centralize the system of wage bargaining in order for decreasing inter-industry and inter-firm wage differentials. For example, the introduction of a European minimum wage policy may help to lower the wage gap between men and women since the fact that the proportion of lowwage earners among women is approximately double to that among men.
4 Gender inequality in education and workplace in Germany and Vietnam – A comparative perspective 4. 1 A comparison of gender gap index In 2011, slightly over 51 percent of Germany’s population were female, while this number was approximately 50 percent in Vietnam. Also in the same year, the share of women in the workforce in Vietnam and Germany was 74 and 71 percent respectively (World Bank, wbl. ).
In general, the comparison between a developed country or a high-income economy (Germany) and a lessdeveloped country or a lower middle income (Vietnam) is not a good reference. However, in the context of gender gap index, since gender inequality is influenced by both socio-economic and cultural factors, there still exist the comparable indexes between these countries. Therefore, it is necessary to explain the indexes where the significant inverse-differences or similarities persist by using the governmental policies and/or socio-, cultural factors in each country.
Among 135 countries included in the Global Gender Gap Report 2012 (Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi, 2012), Germany held the 13th position in comparison to the 66th of Vietnam in the overall ranking which, as mentioned in Part 1, took into account four pillars: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. Separately, for both economic participation and opportunity and educational attainment index, Germany had higher overall scores than Vietnam.
However, the share of female in labour force participation, the female-to-male wage equality ratio for similar work in Vietnam and the female-tomale professional and technical workers ratio is slightly greater than the one in Germany, 92 versus 87 percent, 0. 68 versus 0. 62, and 1. 05 versus 1. 01 respectively. In addition, the Vietnamese’s female-to-male ratio of enrolment in tertiary education is also higher than German’s one. It should be also noticed that Vietnam has 59 percent of firms with female
participation in ownership by comparison with 20 percent in Germany, while the ability of women to rise to positions of enterprise leadership is almost equal in both countries. The below table is a summary for the comparison of some highlighted indexes between Germany and Vietnam derived from the Global Gender Gap Report 2012. Index Country Germany Vietnam Total population (millions) 81. 73 87. 84 GDP (PPP) per capita (US$) 33,414 2,875 13 66 Overall score1 of gender gap index 2012 0. 763 0. 687
Economic Participation and Opportunity (score2) 0. 740 0. 710 Labour force participation (Female-to-male ratio) 0. 87 0. 92 0. 62 0. 68 0. 74 0. 69 0. 61 0. 28 1. 01 1. 05 Rank (out of 135 countries) of gender gap index 2012 Wage equality for similar work (Female-to-male ratio) Estimated earned income (PPP US$) (Female-tomale ratio) Legislators, senior officials and managers (Female-to-male ratio) Professional and technical workers (Female-tomale ratio) 1 Overall score has the range from 0. 00 = inequality to 1.
00 = equality As mentioned in Part 1 of this paper, this score is calculated based on three indexes: the participation gap (the difference in labour force participation rates), the remuneration gap (the ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income and the wage equality for similar work) and the advancement gap (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers). 2 Educational attainment (score) 0. 985 0. 968 Literacy rate (Female-to-male ratio) 1. 00 0. 96 1. 00 – 1. 00 0.
96 0. 89 1. 00 48 40 20 59 4. 45 4. 55 14 weeks 16-24 weeks 100, up to ceiling 100 Enrolment in primary education (Female-to-male ratio) Enrolment in secondary education (Female-tomale ratio) Enrolment in tertiary education (Female-to-male ratio) Share of women in wage employment in the nonagriculture sector (% of total non-agricultural employment) Firms with female participation in ownership (% of firms) Ability of women to rise to positions of enterprise leadership3 Length of maternity leave Maternity leave benefits (% of wages paid in covered period) Statutory health
Provider of maternity coverage insurance scheme, state, employer Social insurance fund Public day-care with allowance, Public and private Day-care options day-care with allowance private day-care without allowance, homecare assistance with and without allowance 4. 2 Overview on gender inequality in education and workplace in Vietnam The 5-year socioeconomic development plans of Vietnam are always associated with the objectives to improve school attendance as well as the educational level for the whole population that in turn, reduce the gender gap in education attainment.
For example, the one in the period 2011-2015 was planned to “improve the quality of education, particularly tertiary level; to focus on 3 Survey data, responses on a 1-to-7 scale (1 = worst score, 7 = best score) the quality rather than expansion of training, attaching importance to vocational training…to adjust the policies on pre-school education and education in mountainous areas” and targeted the increase of the rate of trained labours in the workforce to 55 percent by 2015 (Government Portal, n. d. , 1).
In practice, in 2012, the female-to-male ratio of enrolment in tertiary education of was 1. 00, higher than the one of enrolment in secondary education and literacy (Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi, 2012). Like other post-socialist countries, with the female-to-male ratio of 0. 92 in labour force participation, Vietnam became the leading country in Asia in terms of female economic participation, hold 13th position in worldwide ranking (Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi, 2012). Nevertheless, according to the ILO Global Wage Report 2012-13,