Business News of Thursday, 21 June 2012
Source: Economy Times
In recent times, Ghana and other parts of the world have seen a growing demand for female brains at big organisations, as it is believed they are better in solving complex work problems than their male counterparts.
Just a generation ago, women were largely confined to menial jobs. They were routinely subjected to casual sexism and were expected to abandon their careers when they marry and have children.
Today, they are running some of the organisations that once treated them as second-class citizens. Societies that try to resist this trend- most notably the Arab countries, Japan and some southern European countries- will pay a heavy price in the form of wasted talent.
Despite the good news, women on average still get paid much less than men. Women earn only 10 percent of the world's income while 70 percent of them live in poverty, Regina Antwi, the Women Commissioner of the Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students (GNUPS) made this known at the Second Annual Polytechnic Women's Conference in Accra recently.
“Apart from lower pay, women across the globe own less than one percent of properties, adding that, in some societies, laws and customs refrain them from owning land and other productive assets,” she added.
Many argued that women earn less because they take time off to care for children or accept lower pay in return for more flexible working arrangements.
“Women tend to go into lower-paying lines of work, shunning higher-paying technical fields,” Chief Executive Officer of LIZIDEL Company Limited, Elizabeth Boafo has said in an interview with Economy Times. Mrs Boafo however believes that in future male-female income disparity would be a thing of the past.
“This is because women’s economic empowerment is arguably the biggest social change of our times,” he stated.
In the European Union, reports say women have filled six million of the eight million new jobs created since 2000. By 2016, report say there will be 2.6 million more female than male university students in America.
The Economist Magazine, an international affairs publication, recently reported that within the next few months, women will cross the 50 percent threshold and become the majority of the global workforce.
Women already make up the majority of university graduates in the developed countries and the majority of professional workers in several rich countries, including the United States.
Law firms, consultancies and banks are rethinking their “up or out” promotion systems because they are losing so many able women. More than 90 percent of the companies in Germany and Sweden are redesigning work in all sorts of family-friendly ways through new technology.
The Economist Magazine said the demand for female labour has been driven by the relentless rise of the service sector where women can compete as well as men and the equally relentless decline of manufacturing where they could not.
Moreover, the strain of the economic recession and the capitalist model, to produce more with less people, has resulted in long-term productivity gains, allowing businesses to cut personnel costs and increase profits.
Technological advances in the developed world have also required workers to have higher skills than before and most jobs in the future will require more than just a university school degree.
Yet men in the US, according to the Economist, have been neglecting their education, more than women, and this will certainly jeopardise their future employment prospects.
Women have been lucky to move into the healthcare and educational sectors, where jobs have been steadily growing and employment conditions remain secure.
Even though men have, by and large, welcomed women’s invasion of the workplace, the positive changes are unsatisfactory. This particular advance comes with two stings. The first is that women are still under-represented at the top of companies.
Report says only two per cent of the bosses of America’s largest companies and five per cent of their peers in Britain are women. They are also paid significantly less than men on average. The second is that juggling work and child-rearing is difficult. Middle-class couples routinely complain that they have too little time for their children.
But the biggest losers are poor children- particularly in places like Ghana, America and Britain that have combined high levels of female participation in the labour force, with a reluctance to spend public money on child care.
“These two problems are closely related. Many women feel they have to choose between their children and their careers. Women who prosper in high-pressure companies during their 20s drop out in dramatic numbers in their 30s and then find it almost impossible to regain their earlier momentum,” The Economist Magazine report stated.
Less-skilled women are trapped in poorly paid jobs with hand-to-mouth child-care arrangements. Motherhood, not sexism, is the issue. In America, the report says childless women earn almost as much as men, but mothers earn significantly less.
Nancy Dery, Former GNUPS Women Commissioner (left) interacting with the current W. Commissioner, Regina Antwi (right) at the conference in Accra recently.