Gemma Styles: What Parity Means To Me
"What we can do about it is raise hell!"
International Women's Day is a day about women (the name kinda gives it away), but isn’t just for women. It’s for everyone - so we can unite in being part of the solution of solving gender inequality. It’s a huge issue – and hugely important – and a topic that loads of people know a massive amount about, while lots others are just starting to understand.
So, to help us all get more informed, and able to kick-inequality-ass, we asked a selection of awesome women doing awesome things to share their thoughts on IWD and tell us what it means to them. Gemma Styles is a writer who lives in London, and she's ready to raise some hell this IWD. Here's her thoughts on the pay gap problem...
Globally, women earn on average 24% less than men. If you think about this discrepancy in terms of one working year, it essentially means that the world’s population of women are working October, November and December for free.
This is why parity is important.
When we look at our own lives, or even the lives of women we know, it can be hard to appreciate how the gender pay gap affects our lives. In general, we’re not in the habit of sitting around and discussing how much we earn – most of us won’t even know how much our close friends are taking home each month, let alone be thinking about how we compare to others thousands of miles away.
The 24% disparity between men and women (let’s just call it a quarter) isn’t just about you and your circle of friends – women all over the world are, on average, being hugely undervalued and underappreciated in the workplace. In 2016 I can’t believe that anyone would think this is fair – and the World Economic Forum has predicted that the gap won’t be closed until 2133. In the past ten years, despite more women entering the workplace, this gap has only closed by three per cent – and the closure has slowed down!
The whole situation feels a bit overwhelming. What are we, the individuals, supposed to do about it? It seems like unless you’re the boss of a large company and get to make decisions about how much your staff get paid then you’re a bit helpless… in fact of the top 500 corporations, less than four per cent are run by women. Not looking good, is it ladies?
WELL. What we can do about it is raise hell! Not just complaining but explaining. I think the facts and figures on parity will come as an eye-opening reminder to many. By using platforms like International Women’s Day to highlight problems then we can help to keep this issue in people’s minds and influence decision makers to make fairer choices.
Be aware, be strong and be a role model. Inspire your peers and future generations to go into work with a sense of their own self-worth. Consider less fortunate women around the world who make up the extremes in the 24% average. By combatting financial disparity we also allow the empowerment of women to be safe, be happy and make their own choices.
If you’re a girl – would you be happy getting paid at the end of September and then working for free until the new year? No way! If you’re a guy – would you be happy with this happening to your mum, friend, sister, partner? Of course not! While feminism is still misunderstood by some, this is the kind of common sense that makes you a feminist – be confident and proud of this label.
In my dream future, we won’t even need to call ourselves feminists, because our views will be the norm. There’s nothing weird or extreme about expecting women to have the same opportunities as men. I’m lucky to know a lot of women who are talented, work hard and are appreciated. Women who know their worth and stand up for it. Today, on International Women’s Day, appreciate yourself and all the women around you. It’s up to us to help improve the working world for everyone!