Gender Equality: ‘This is not a men vs women issue. It’s about people vs prejudice.’ Laura Bates Article by Simone Sandhu
This year commemorates 100 years since some women gained suffrage in 1918. Before this, only men were able to voice their opinions on how their country should be run.
Interestingly, over the past 100 years, the world has changed much more than the previous 1000 years: astronauts have travelled to the moon, the World Wide Web was invented and technology has developed rapidly. Women nowadays have gained many more rights, yet proper gender equality still seems beyond us. This is demonstrated by the fact that women are still paid less than men. For example women in the tech industry under the age of 25, earn on average 29% less than men in equivalent roles.
Recently I met Laura Bates, a feminist writer who visited a school as part of their Literature Festival. She was interviewed by Hina Belitz, who is an employment lawyer and deals with many discrimination cases herself. Laura Bates is one of the founders of the Everyday Sexism Project who aims to inspire and tell people more about aspects of sexism that still exist in our world today.
Bates explained that many women are treated unfairly in their daily lives, accepting this as the normality (from a woman feeling uncomfortable walking down the street, being wolf-whistled at, to a woman being passed over for that well-deserved promotion ‘just in-case’ she decides to have a baby). This is the foundation of her Everyday Sexism movement. The way women are portrayed in the media was also discussed. In the UK, we have two prominent female figures: the Queen and the Prime Minister. However, have you ever noticed when you have read the news, the female politicians have their outfits scrutinised whereas the male counterparts have their policies scrutinised? Even the news around the Queen sometimes revolves around her latest hat…
During the interview, an ‘unconscious bias’ was also discussed. This is something we may all be guilty of at some point in our lives. Assuming a female child aspires to be a nurse rather than a doctor, girls being described as bossy rather than leaders, arrogant versus confident.
Apart from teaching girls and women that this is not acceptable, it is important to ensure that boys learn about gender equality too. This side of gender equality is an interesting topic to think about. Do you think that more gender equality is important?