Are women and men really equal?


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Only 14.2% of women hold top leadership positions in the S&P 500

Alefiyah Vahanvaty, Staff Writer

In our American society, most people tend to feel that we live in a world where we provide equal opportunities for all people, regardless of race, sex, religion, etc. However, women are lagging behind in the fields of science, politics, and business around the world.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, women make up 47% of the workforce,but are highly under-represented in certain science and engineering occupations. Women make up only 20% of all members of Congress, and less than 25% of all state legislatures. Women are still barely represented in the corporate world, holding only 4.4% of the top CEO positions at S&P 500 companies during 2015. Does this astonishing gap exist because women are really different from men, or does sexism still exist in our society?

The truth is that women can accomplish as much as men. A new report from the Pew Research Center states that the majority of Americans feel that women are just as capable as men when it comes to being political and business leaders. Just plain sexism doesn’t seem like the answer. Perhaps it’s the biases that have been so ingrained in male executive leaders. Most Americans claim to hold equitable views: that men and women are equal. However, converting belief into practice is a much different matter.

It is important to keep in mind that one’s sex does not determine how successful someone will be in their chosen vocation. But women and men are different, and they do things differently, especially in the workplace. There has been no evidence, to suggest that one sex, can accomplish more than the other, inherently just based on whether they are male or female. It perhaps is cultural factors that influence how men and women do things differently in the workplace. But the main point is that women and men do things differently in the workplace, especially in today’s age.

“Indeed, women can be just as different in the professional world as they are in their personal lives,” said Drew Gannon, author of the Fiscal Times article “How Men and Women Differ in the Workplace.”

Many studies have shown that women tend to be more persuasive and eager to take up challenges, and they tend to be more of honest and harder workers than men. A 2009 study by Accenture, found that 70% of business women asked their bosses for a new challenge. You would think that men and women would equally ask their bosses for a new challenge, right? Studies have proven this wrong. From the Accenture study, less than half of the men polled asked for a new challenge. In addition, a poll from a career site known as theFit showed that 54% of women worked 9 to 11 hours per a day, compared to 41% of men.

More women than men were likely to express a willingness to work while on vacation. They were less likely to spend their sick days “playing hooky, taking a mental health day, suffering from a hangover, or interviewing for another job,” according to the Fiscal Times.

Aren’t these the qualities necessary for being successful in any occupation that you want to pursue?  “In fact at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts,” said Mr. Jack  Zenger and Mr. Joseph Folkman, journalists for the Harvard Business Review. “Two of the traits where women outscored men to the highest degree-taking initiative and driving results.”

Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Blink”, a book that is a bestseller, describes a study that shows that although we may consciously not have biases against one sex/race, we unconsciously very much do. This could be the reason why women are lacking many leadership roles, although studies have proven that women could very well be great leaders.

Black and white women and men were carefully selected to be similar in every aspect (obviously, except for sex and race), and they pretended to shop for cars. The blacks were quoted higher prices than the whites, and the women higher prices than the men. None of the automobile salesmen was outwardly racist. But, they very well could have lost out on good deals by unconsciously judging them by their sex and appearances. Their rapid cognition of thinking was unconsciously racist. The point is that we are so used to African Americans and women being inferior, in a patriarchal society.

In order to solve this problem, we need to implement programs and initiatives that heavily provide support for girls in the business, political, and technology field. This could heavily improve the economy as well. Research has shown that everybody does better when women share the reins of power. “Female founded start ups outperformed all male teams,” said Tucker J. Marion, author of the Harvard Business Review article “4 Factors that Predict Start Up Success, and One That Doesn’t”.

Let’s break this bias against women, let’s prepare a future where women are equally represented as leaders of the nation.