If Trump is elected, womankind is in deep trouble.
University College London (UCL) has painted itself into a not so pretty corner. A few months ago, scientist, university professor, and 2001 Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt was forced to resign over sexist comments made at a global conference in Seoul. Hunt uttered this unfortunate phrase: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.”
Hunt, 72, had previously admitted to his reputation of being a chauvinist. This is hardly surprising; he is of a generation in which this flippant attitude towards women is entrenched. There was more than likely no malice behind this comment; Hunt stated afterwards that he was “very nervous” and “went mad up there.” But come on, you can’t be saying those things in 2015 and not expect a media (social and otherwise) storm. Understandably, the response was immediate and catastrophic.
What a social media storm it was! Hunt was described on Twitter as “a clueless, sexist jerk”; “a misogynist dude scientist”; and one tweet demanded that the Royal Society “kick him out.” Another tweet read: “Maybe if less male scientists were such chauvinist pigs there would be more women in science and technology Tim Hunt?” My personal favourite: “Why are the British so embarrassing abroad?”
Although many have said, including female scientists, that Hunt’s treatment at the hands of the university was unfair and histrionic, it is nonetheless expected. Generational or not; there is no way a man can escape very public consequences when making such comments, especially as the conference was for women in science. Of course UCL wanted to make an example of him; the last thing a nearly 200-year-old predominantly male British institution needs is a reputation for chauvinism.
The example would have been well and truly made, had claims not recently come to light that UCL actually pays female staff less than male staff at the Qatari campus. This claim was revealed after a string of emails in which a female staff member complained that married women were given a lower living allowance than married men. In addition to this, Qatari has actually admitted that the women on staff receive a lower salary. Female academics are reportedly earning up to 15 per cent less than their male compatriots. Top female academics earn about $4,800AUD less. On average, female university professors earn about $11,000AUD less than male professors.
UCL has admitted the mistake and sought to correct it. A spokesperson for UCL stated: “Clearly, this was never intended as an intentional policy and as soon as the anomaly came to light we took steps to rectify it. The policy change was backdated so that staff were not disadvantaged.” In other words, UCL is estimated to owe hundreds of thousands of pounds to its female employees, and if it wants to maintain the image of equal opportunity, it must honour this pledge.
Look, it’s fabulous that UCL is naming and shaming itself for this mess. However, the question that needs to be asked is how the HELL this payment policy managed to go unseen for such a period of time. I mean, really?! Academia is already a boys club; surely every educational facility in the world is on high alert for such policy discrepancies. To me, this is a case of two steps forward, one step backwards. I am a great believer in academia, at a tertiary level especially. But holy moly; if UCL, one of the most respected and (hopefully) progressive universities in the world has managed to sidestep this sexist policy for so long, then we still have A LOT of work to do.
Image via Stuff.co.nz
The US Open has long been the most flamboyant of the four grand slams. Held in New York; the city lives up to its reputation of endowing whatever it touches with a sense of “there’s a first time for everything!” This year, in tennis terms, is no exception…the sky high screenings in Times Square of Rafael Nadal casually flaunting his Tommy Hilfigers is testament to that. However, another notable first this year is that the women’s final has sold out before the men’s.
According to the organisers, this has never happened before in the history of the tournament. Ever. So why this year? The advertising has been no different. The crowd has the same interests, or do they? Alongside the Federers, Nadals, and Djokovics of the tennis world, one player has a more interesting story than anyone. A female player. I’m talking about America’s Serena Williams, who is aiming for the first Calendar Slam achieved by a woman since 1988.
To nail a Calendar Slam, a player must win all four grand slams in a calendar year; The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. Serena already has the first three; to win the fourth on home soil is beyond making history. But this fascination with her is unusual. Plenty of records have been smashed by extraordinary female sports stars/teams, and nobody cares or even knows about it. I mean, the Australian Diamonds netball team just won the World Championships and the media was covering Nick Kyrgios’ sledging of Stan Wawrinka.
And it’s not just netball. The Southern Stars women’s cricket team just regained the Ashes, yet only 7 per cent of sports programming in Australia covers women’s sports. And as for the pay gap, it stinks. At the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the men competed for at least $3.975 million. Two years ago, when female cricketers played their most recent World Cup in India, the $75,000 winnings paled in comparison. There is a similar disparity in many sports including surfing, soccer and golf.
Which brings us back to tennis, one of the only high profile sports to have equal pay for both men and women. There is some contention about this. At grand slams, women play best of three sets, and the men play best of five. Women will spend about two hours on court per match, and men will play for four, five, sometimes six hours. In other smaller tournaments, all players play best of three.
The disparity in court time means a disparity in TV air time; less advertising, sponsorship exposure, and ratings. It is perfectly understandable and logical to argue that for grand slam tournaments, men receive more prize money than the women. Until seven years ago, when Wimbledon joined the pack of equal pay, that was the case.
So why the lack of pay gap in tennis? If you consider the gender equivalent training, travel, physio, press, injuries, jet lag, pain, and self-discipline athletes put themselves through, it’s entirely justified that the pay is the same. Women in all sports undergo the same physical and mental struggle as men, coupled with the constant battle to be relevant in a boys club. Yet the vast majority of sportswomen are not properly acknowledged for their colossal efforts.
There are other female sporting role models out there like Serena Williams; we just don’t hear about them. I’m not sure if women in sport will ever receive the same appreciation, at least not in the near future. However, if we make an effort to watch women’s sport on TV/in person (we should; it’s actually fabulous), talk about it on social media and generally push an interest, we may close the gap sooner than we think.
We’ve all thought it, but Patricia Arquette said it: “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women.”
Taking to the stage at the 87th Academy Awards to accept her win for best-supporting actress in Boyhood, the 37-year old proved feminism isn’t dead by thanking mothers, tax-payers and demanding fair pay for women.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” said Arquette.
Fair pay among genders has been a lingering discussion for some time now, but it’s something that continues to be swept under the rug. In 2011 a study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the average weekly earnings for a full-time female worker was approximately 17% lower for women than men. While the reasons varied, the prominent influences were the undervaluation of skills and the restriction of employment prospects for workers with family responsibilities. Surprisingly these pay gaps also existed in female-dominated industries.
Let me ask you, should you have to give up your desire to have a family in order to be granted equal salary entitlements? And would you? Becoming a mother is a God-given right, so it doesn’t really seem like an appropriate proposition. While we’ve certainly come a long way since the 20th century when women were subject to roughly one third of a male’s salary, it seems there’s still a long way to go before the gap is closed.
Now before we go getting too political, let me remind you that feminism extends further than the female gender and is based upon a belief that everyone should have the same rights and opportunities despite their sex. So on that note, here is a powerful quote by Gloria Steinem that perfectly sums this up: “Though we have the courage to raise our daughters more like our sons, we’ve rarely had the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.”
Image via the Independent
Beyoncé is using her celebrity status to bring equal pay for women to the world’s attention.
The 32-year-old singer has penned an essay called “Gender Quality Is a Myth!” for The Shriver Report, an initiative led by Maria Shriver, which aims to discuss social trends that impact women.
“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet,” she writes in the essay, which is included in a special report, “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From The Brink.”
“Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change.
“We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”
The singer, writing under her full name, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, urges men to join their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters in demanding equal pay for equal work.
Other celebrities to add their voice to the project include Eva Longoria, whose essay “Empowering Latinas pushes for educational opportunities for Latina women.
Jennifer Garner contributed “Turning Poverty Around: Training Parents to Help Their Kids”, while Jada Pinkett Smith wrote the essay “Human Trafficking and Slavery in the United States: ‘You Don’t See the Chains.'”
Do you think women will ever achieve equal pay to men? Tell us in the comments below.