Work → In Progress: Gender In The Workplace, Past And Future

A fast-evolving question ...
A fast-evolving question ...
Rozena Crossman

PARIS — In 1919, the International Labor Organization adopted the first conventions on women in the workplace. In 2019, the women who won the World Cup earned $850,000 less than their male counterparts. Three waves of feminism have transformed sexual and interpersonal dynamics. Still, the #MeToo movement reminded us of entrenched power-and-sexual dynamics in the workplace. And other contradictions abound: a case is now before the United States Supreme Court about whether a company can force women to wear skirts or fire an employee for being transgender; and even as some women rise to the heights of corporate power, a report last year on gender disparity in tech found that men own 91% of employee and founder equity in Silicon Valley ...

Whatever the gender gap looks like in 2119, at the heart of the matter will be questions about work. The working world is both a microcosm of the world around us and its fuel: a place where networks are formed, ambitions are achieved and wages are earned. This edition of Work → In Progress looks at the future demographics and dynamics around the water coolers of the world.

YOU GROW, GIRL! Women are inundating the agricultural business in Africa. They constitute 70% of the workforce in the continent's agricultural sector, and are responsible for 60 to 90% of the total rural marketing. In the sub-Saharan region, much of the rural farming is carried out by self-employed farmers, most of whom are women. But there's still room for improvement: While women run three quarters of Kenyan farms, men own and control most of the land.

SHE'S IN CHARGE, JAPANESE-STYLE In the land of the rising #girlboss, Japanese companies are collaborating to bring more women into managerial positions: This year, Panasonic Group, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. and Yamato Holdings Co. launched a united training program that aims at helping female employees across industries build both their management skills and their network.

WAIT, WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN? Meanwhile, in the world's second most populous country, a new survey found that the number of employed women in India has decreased by a whopping 31% between 2011-12 and 2017-18. According to The Times of India, several recent studies show that Indian women of all ages, educations and incomes are dropping out of work for a range of reasons, from higher expectations for those with university degrees, to husbands pressuring wives to stay home, to the automation of agricultural jobs. No, the future isn't always synonymous with progress, and changes to stifling gender roles are crucial to economic advancement.

AN ITALIAN SOLUTION With Italy ranking 70th worldwide in gender parity in the workforce, Enrico Gambardella has set up an organization called Winning Women Institute that runs "severe" audits on companies to see if they are closing the gender gap on a range of factors, from pay equity to leadership to overall hiring. The companies that pass the test can promote the fact to customers with the organization's pink seal."It's like what's happening around environmental policy," Gambardella told Rome-based daily La Repubblica. "Shoppers today are more attentive about where they spend their money. Company reputation is a fundamental part of business today."


ROBOT HARASSMENT Every employee has the right to a safe work environment — including robots. The Telegraph reports that a recent study by De Montfort University found that British workers, fearing their jobs will be usurped, are purposefully vandalizing their friendly office robots. The study's author explains that employers often bring in robots without explaining to their employees that the machines' main purpose is actually to make their jobs easier.

A 360 DEGREE The Dominican Republic is introducing a whole new kind of degree at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. In partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, the university will offer technical training alongside traditional classes so that students can also graduate with both their original degrees and technical certificates. The goal is to provide students with "short term" jobs after graduation, and to create graduates who can respond to the growing need for high-tech skills.


BUILDING THE FUTURE Architects all over the world agree: People from other disciplines will play an increasingly significant role in improving urban solutions, from communications to engineering. According to Moscow-based media Kommersant, this is because architecture and urban design is no longer a private matter, but a public one. Problems such as air, water pollution and rising sea levels are all the result of poor design. The current state of affairs should be used as a springboard for architectural research and expression.

DATA DIVINATION If a big industrial company has worked out an intelligent method of knowing exactly when to fix machines, could they do the same thing for employees? The growing popularity of HR analytics has algorithms predicting employees career evolutions and even absenteeism. Belgian business daily L'Echo reports that Jigso, an Anvers-based startup, uses data to track employee behavior. Now, Jigso is trying to create a data-based service that helps employees organize their work differently or gives them automatic paid leave to preserve their well-being.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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