Closing the Gap: How Education, Policy, and Social Programs Impact Gender Inequality in Work

Combating Gender Inequality in the Workplace: Education & Policy

In the previous article, we looked at how the invention of oral contraceptives dramatically changed women's economic prospects.
Now we will talk about the role of higher education and what inequality issues exist in this area.

Unfortunately there are no graphs with earlier data, but in general we can see the dynamics. The data is from the Pew Research Center website.

Inequality is not just about unequal representation of the sexes in the labor market. Wages have also historically been very unequal. The wage gap began to narrow in the late 1970s.

One proof of the unfairness of the inequality is the fact that despite the increasing prevalence of higher education among working women, wages did not increase in any way. One reason for this was the fact that employers refused to invest in the education of female employees because they were afraid that a woman would go on one or more maternity leave.

The post-war economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s led to an increase in the number of women in the labor force, which contributed to demographic shifts and technological advances. However, women continued to face systemic discrimination and occupational segregation, with limited career opportunities and unequal pay for comparable work. The civil rights movement of the 1960s paved the way for legislative reforms, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, aimed at eliminating gender-based pay inequality.

Goldin showed in a 2010 article that things had improved by the 21st century. However, this article also proved that after the first child, women's income falls relative to the initial level and, more sadly, no longer grows at the same rate as men's. Of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions to the rule confirm the existence of the rule itself. By the way, those women who did not have a child remained competitive and their salaries were about the same as men's.

What can be done to eliminate gender inequality?

As we know, gender quotas are already common in the West. The question then is: how effective are they? It is still impossible to answer this question unequivocally. The very idea of gender quotas first emerged in the late 19th century, when women began to fight for their right to participate in political life. However, the first specific legislation establishing quotas for women did not appear until the second half of the twentieth century. One of the earliest examples of gender quotas was a law passed in 1983 in Norway that required parties to nominate at least 40 percent of candidates of each sex for municipal council elections. Later, in 1993, Rwanda adopted a new constitution that guaranteed that at least 30% of seats in the legislature would be held by women. Since then, gender quotas have become widely used in various countries around the world, including developed democracies in the West.

It is not to say that gender quotas are ineffective, but skeptics make a number of arguments against such policies. Here are the most commonly voiced arguments.

One of the main arguments is the risk of reducing the quality of candidates. Those who support this view believe that gender quotas could lead to candidates being selected based on their gender identity rather than their competencies, which could ultimately have a negative impact on performance in organizations.

An extension of this argument is the fear that it may violate the principle of meritocracy that positions should be filled by the most qualified candidates, regardless of gender.

Conservative philosophers, sociologists and just plain influencers oppose this, arguing that if women are to be more widely represented than they are now, it should happen on its own, without being "imposed from above." In other words, they argue from a position of anti-ethnicity. Also, some critics believe that gender quotas can exacerbate gender stereotypes and cause resentment among those who feel they were chosen because of their gender rather than their qualities.

However, critics of gender quotas often forget to consider that these measures may be a temporary remedy aimed at stimulating changes in society that will eventually make gender quotas unnecessary. Supporters of gender quotas also emphasize that, despite their shortcomings, they can serve as a catalyst for increasing women's involvement in public, political and economic life, which in turn can lead to improved gender equality and a more prosperous society as a whole.

Yet gender quotas are generally recognized as an effective measure. Quotas are effective for at least several reasons. First of all, there is no denying that there is a lot of racism and sexism in the world. Let's imagine that a company owner hires only men and because of his sexist views despite the fact that some of the female candidates may have better qualifications. In such a situation the introduction of quotas would certainly be effective. On the other hand, we do not have enough information to judge the prevalence of such cases, so it is difficult to assess the effectiveness and demand for such a measure.

What does Goldin propose?

First of all, Claudia Goldin considers education to be one of the most powerful tools for reducing inequality. She emphasizes the importance of ensuring access to quality education for all members of society, regardless of their social status, financial status or race. This includes not only basic and secondary education, but also access to higher education and vocational training, which can help people acquire the necessary skills and competencies for successful careers and personal development.

Goldin recognizes the importance of social programs such as welfare, anti-poverty programs, access to health care and housing. These programs provide support to those who are vulnerable, helping to reduce inequality in access to basic services and resources. The development and improvement of such programs certainly improves the living standards of the most vulnerable groups in society.

Goldin's third most important point is the need to combat discrimination at all levels of society. This includes enacting anti-discrimination laws and policies, conducting educational campaigns to change public opinion, and supporting programs aimed at inclusive growth. Fighting discrimination helps to create a more just and equal society where everyone has equal opportunities and rights.

In conclusion

Gender inequality in the labor market certainly exists and as Goldin proved, it does not exist because women allegedly have worse mental abilities, etc. The main reason is the need to bear a child and other family responsibilities. These reasons have been around for a long time and are so profound that without outside intervention these problems will not be solved by themselves. There are a number of measures that can help or are already having a positive effect, but so far the inequality is still very strong.




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