So here we are, in the year 2014 and yep, we’re still battling discrimination and equality as women. It’s easy to laugh it off and not let it bother us, as there are so many freedoms we do enjoy as women, but if we continue to let the status quo thrive, then how is it ever going to change for future generations?
A lot of the gender discrimination that goes in the workforce is illegal, but it is only questioned when it is made aware of. A group of female college students in China are facing grim prospects when they graduate, not just because of the strained job markets, but because there are many big companies in that country who blatantly don’t want to hire women, and say so in their job ads.
These eight brave women, who prefer to remain unnamed due to potential political repercussions, are naming and shaming dozens of companies they say are illegally specifying that only men can apply for certain positions. They have mailed their complaints to government human resource departments in the cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing, and in Yunnan and Henan Provinces, according to a report in the New York Times.
This group of women have found certain job advertisements not only specify men for positions within companies, but the jobs geared toward women pay significantly less, and for no good reason. Most of the companies targeted are privately owned with hundreds of employees. Only one was a state-owned business.
After being contacted by telephone, two companies in Yunnan would drop their requests for male-only applicants. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but the fact that these girls are ruffling feathers is a good start to an important conversation.
Kunming Union Technology Company, the only state-owned enterprise on the women’s list, had advertised several positions for male engineers to maintain credit and debit card machines.
“This is a job that requires frequent travel and outdoor legwork. You need go to all those shops to install or fix the machines. Women are not quite fit for that,” said a woman who answered the telephone in the company’s human resources department. “But if there are female candidates we would still considering hiring them.”
That has got to be the most contradictory statement made by a company! Even though they “support free choice” according to the spokeswoman, the fact remains that they still specify they want only makes to apply, which will deter women from applying altogether.
“If that’s the case, then it’s more important to marry well than to study well,” said one of the volunteers.
“We college students are facing serious employment problems, so we hope our action will breathe life into the laws and regulations that ensure equality of opportunity in employment,” she wrote in an email to the New York Times.
While many of the companies who were contacted said the reason for only wanting men for certain jobs was because of the physical labor involved, the volunteers found only 80% of the jobs they were calling out required physical labor.
China is not the only country to see this happen. In November 2012 the YWCA in New Zealand released a controversial video exposing how ludicrous gender discrimination is. According to the Auckland YWCA, women in NZ are paid 10% less than men for doing the same job. While they are trying to change the situation by bringing awareness to all levels of social conscience, the video shows a hilarious solution to the situation: since men earn more, make them pay more in all situations!
You can see their campaign on the Demand Equal Pay website.
And if these stories aren’t enough to make you want to do something about gender discrimination, thinking it won’t affect you, this epidemic reaches all industries, including Hollywood. Yep, the A-list actresses aren’t paid near as much as the men in the same category, and it sadly is the same behind the camera, according to a study by the New York Film Academy.
There is not an easy solution (other than paying women the same!) but it starts with awareness. Then action, then speaking out, then hopefully forcing people in a position to change things to realize what needs to happen. Even if you don’t particularly care about equal pay because you are happy with where you are in life, think about how your voice could affect the lives of other women, your next generation and their next generation.
You don’t have to go to the length of naming and shaming like the Chinese students, but you should be prepared to question and speak out.