More needs to change

Recently, there have been heated discussions about women’s experience in the workplace and in the overall economy.

Then a columnist triggered a stormy exchange about the right of women to be in men’s locker rooms at sporting events, presumably so that they could report on the aftermath of a game.

This brings up the entire question of women’s progress.

It must be acknowledged that both men and women are learning that one could not really advance without the other, but progress has been tantalizingly slow.

In Canada women finally (belatedly) received the right to vote in the federal election in 1918, and ever so slowly the number of women participating in governments at all level has been on the rise.

But even now in the House of Commons there are only 77 women, or 24.4 percent of the total, and in the cabinet just 10 or 37% of the full membership. Then too, it is obvious that women are under-represented in senior positions in government agencies and in industry.

Heretofore under ancient law women, no matter how old, were treated as minors, always subject to male guardians. This tradition continues in some other nations, notably in the Middle East.

Fortunately, in Canada things are improving. Women now outnumber men in many post-graduate institutions, law and medical schools and veterinary colleges.

Still, much needs to be done. The question remains why women have not ascended to the most senior jobs in government and in the overall economy?

It is partly women’s own fault. They are disinclined to assert themselves. There are interesting perspectives on how women are coping at work, and what is holding them back. As stated in a new book, Work With Me by Barbara Annis and John Gray, women seem to ask more questions and seek collaboration with co-workers.

Men are more inclined to view that as a sign of weakness. Witness the well-known reluctance of men to ask for road directions while women are more willing to do so.

It is obvious to all that men are more competitive at work, are more likely to unilaterally make decisions and do not appear to be as anxious to have the needed harmonious workforce as women.

According to anecdotal evidence, women leave their jobs as they believe that they are excluded too often and their contributions are ignored.

There are social reasons at play. Female executives have fewer children and are less willing to disregard family obligations. As a generalization women have more common sense than men, and are more caring and responsible.

First and foremost, there are moral reasons all this should change. Then too, in view of the looming shortage of qualified people, women should rightly assume a larger share of the nation’s economy for the betterment of everyone.



Bruce Whitestone