In this post, I consider a particular aspect of gender inequality: the issue of the unbalanced distribution of paid and unpaid work. I examine the idea of work-and-life balance that is proposed as a solution to the problem of having a family and career at the same time and point out the fact that it is typically discussed concerning women. This issue is supported by the statistics, which proves that women are loaded with unpaid work to a greater extent.
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I conclude by suggesting that the tipped balance affects the career opportunities of women and also consider the impact that this typical discriminatory practice has on the process of promoting equality in the modern world. I provide examples and references for the facts that are cited in the post.
Women in the Workforce
Nowadays, diversity and tolerance courses are exceptionally popular and even required at schools and universities, but they do not appear to produce the expected effect. Education should form attitudes of generations, and inequality is not supposed to have survived by now, but it persists. An example is the issue of gender inequality; in particular, that related to women in the workforce. Inequality is a very complex issue, and I cannot explain its persistence exhaustively, but here, I will attempt to take a look at some of its reasons by examining the concept of work-and-life balance.
In effect, a lot is being made to close the nearly 20-percent wage gap1 between women and men in Canada (Zamon, 2015), and one of such activities is described in the article by Alonso-Almeida (2014). This activity can be called the maintenance of the work-and-life balance, and this idea keeps receiving praise from researchers.2 However, I believe that this method was planted on the soil of discriminatory, sexist society, and its positive effects are limited.
The balance is most often used concerning women. Consider the words of Jennifer Reynolds, chief executive officer of Women in Capital Markets of Canada: “work-life balance is not specifically a women’s issue, but it is one that needs to be talked about more openly because it does hold women back” (Freeman, 2015, para. 12). There is a very clear explanation for the fact that the family holds women back: family and home-making are still the “prerogatives” of women.
Most of us like children, clean houses, and homemade meals. However, according to statistics, a particular group of particular sex typically exploits the opposite one to attain these goods. Nowadays, there exists a distinction between the paid (profession-related) and unpaid (clean house, fed children) work. The work-and-life balance is the practice that is meant to deal with paid work (Kimura, 2016). To ridicule, no employer will create a schedule of house chores for you; they are a part of the “life” side of the balance. At the same time, according to official statistics, women in Canada spend 1.5 times3 more hours on this unpaid work (Milan, Keown, & Urquijo, 2015, para. 51).
In other words, the work-and-life balance is tipped differently for women: they are loaded with the unpaid work to a greater extent than men, and this issue is connected to the fact that less than 60%4 of the working-age women were employed in 2009 (Ferrao, 2015, para. 1). It is difficult to find a balance when there are some extra weights on the scale, and it is not surprising that many women simply do not try, settling for low-wage jobs or none at all.
I am not implying that everyone must be pursuing career opportunities, but this issue of unbalanced scales does exist. Given this tendency that remains typical in modern society, it is not surprising that diversity courses produce dissatisfactory results, and inequality persists: it simply begins at home.
Alonso-Almeida, M. (2014). Women (and mothers) in the workforce: Worldwide factors. Women’s Studies International Forum, 44, 164-171. Web.
Ferrao, V. (2015). Paid Work. Web.
Freeman, S. (2015). For Working Women, A More Attainable Goal (If Their Families Will Allow It). Huffington Post. Web.
Kimura, D. (2016). Work and Life Balance “If We Are Not Happy Both in Work and out of Work, We Cannot Provide Happiness to Others”. Frontiers In Pediatrics, 4, 1-2. Web.
Milan, A., Keown, L.-A., & Urquijo, C. R. (2015). Families, Living Arrangements and Unpaid Work. Web.
Zamon, R. (2015). The Gender Pay Gap In Canada Is Twice The Global Average. Huffington Post. Web.
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- Based on the data from Catalyst Canada statistics (Zamon, 2015).
- See Alonso-Almeida (2014) and Kimura (2016) for more information.
- Based on official data from Statistics Canada (Milan et al., 2015).
- Based on the official data from Statistics Canada (Ferrao, 2015).