Gender discrimination in economic sector

Men and women, even if they work the same, women have to be paid less. If the payment issue is solved, people shall raise questions about a woman’s qualifications, their integrity to family responsibilities, their way of riding up the ladder! Nasrin Humayra sheds light on the issue from her personal observations.

tabeezejensi_webEarlier this month, we have celebrated International Women’s Day flaunting us in purple dresses and taking cute selfies. At the end of this month, we will be celebrating our Independence Day. On this connection, I would like to ask a burning question that has been asked numerous times before- are women really becoming independent? If so, what is the extent of their independence? In the first step of the endeavor to become independent, that is to work professionally, are they still facing discrimination based on their sexuality in their work places?

Woman, as Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak would way, are doubly in shadow. Since their birth, they are being subjected to discrimination in a plethora of fields, exclusively based on their sexual identity. Yes, argument will come as women are participating in educational institutes, a variety of work fields and so on. But again, in our cultural construction, education is an absolute necessity for a man while a university degree would add extra points on a woman’s marriage curriculum vitae. This is not only discrimination, but also a systematic repression and a process of elaborate discrimination.

When I started working after my graduation, I immediately began to gain insights of different kinds of discrimination women have to face in their everyday life, outside of home. I wrote about women’s condition in the Dhaka’s public transportation system. After that writing, on March 7, several women were publicly molested on broad day-light by ruling party student wing. Social media has swarmed by such incidents right after that. Today, this journey will start from the entrance of the office.

According to some statistics, it is claimed that the proportion of educated population is nearly equally shared by male and female. Nonetheless, discriminations prevail in office environments, which are constituted with all educated people. This initially astonished me that highly educated people still harbor those century old dogmas about women, while working side by side. How, why are these dogmas still around? Because, educated or not, all alike, believe in this male-centric, male-chauvinistic societal structure. We, apparently, by practicing these illogical norms, are upholding the ‘tradition’.

Well, after you, a woman, secure a decent job, it shall become an eye-sore for many including your colleagues. The first response you will get, directly and indirectly, is that you did not get the job based on your merit and skills, rather, you used your feminine beauty and charm. Such an insult right after your success, a showcasing of twisted mind too! As if, women do not possess any brain, rather a set of organs to make men happy. As if, women always achieve things using their body, rather than their skills. Now, imagine you have tremendous educational record that no one can question about the justification of your job appointment. Things will not stop, that same set of people will start pointing out that your grades too, came because you have given your professors something extra in return, we all know what that ‘something’ stands for. And after all that, a hard working woman would be brutally questioned by people with a visible hunger in them for hurting the woman, for how could she be so irresponsible and indifferent to her family duties, do not these women feel bad about leaving their children at home with domestic workers? All the while, the men, who are working late, taking their work to home, or partying after the day’s work, are not questioned, as it seems, they are entitled!

Leaving these stages, there is the crucial issue of remuneration. This is true that compared to other fields, corporate sector women do enjoy almost the same salary as their male counterpart as the organization might have a salary scale. Things are not as sweet for other women though. In a 2015 report, Bangladesh Statistics Bureau showed that in agricultural work men get 299 taka where women get 226 taka for their daily labour, on average. The difference in the margin is quite noticeable. World Vision Bangladesh and Steps Towards Development research shows that 56% men worker get 200-400 taka daily and 61% women get 100-200 taka daily. This huge difference in daily wages is a hard slap for the marginalised working women in most of the sectors including garment industries where women are the major workforce.

As mentioned earlier, corporate world, usually, does not discriminate while paying but there are other discriminations and injustices. You will often see your male colleagues cracking insulting jokes about women, indicating sexual matters illicitly, giving you lustful glances and the list goes on. As you become familiar with your work place, you will find that the discrimination process is deeply rooted inside the psyche of most of your co-workers. The administration will hesitate to employ a female over a male, in most of the occasions. And the excuses are lame and indications that women are not treated equally.

Another tendency, which remains mostly underlying, is that male workers take women as their competitors. Working in a team means complete co-operation of the members, but often, the males go out of the line in establishing that they are in some kind of warfare with the opposite sex. Many men, however inefficient they are for the work compared to a female colleague, are of the opinion that women are taking away seats from the deserving male candidates.

How your male co-workers treat their women at home and how they evaluate a stay-at-home woman worker is also intriguing. According to most of my co-workers whose wives are not ‘employed’, do nothing at home other than lazily lying around the house and watching television. This is a serious indication that women’s works are not evaluated by the same scale or measurement. Those ‘unemployed’ women, who maintain the household, never get any salary or any recognition for their tremendous effort of organising a home. To be honest, that is nothing short of managing any office. What makes the difference is our points of view and good intention.

In reality, a woman, either professionally working or not, are never treated equally as their male counterparts. This discrimination comes from social construction and remains static because of rigorous practice and upholding of questionable social values. Breaking those dogmas, many women are entering job sectors where they face another different set of discrimination, different from those they had faced so far in their families. Even in their workplaces, they are presented with a new set of ‘rules’ which are exclusive for them and holds discrimination at the core. Those discriminations damage women, in long term, damage their entire psyche and their understanding of the world. How long will it take to the true emancipation of women? The answer remains elusive.

Nasrin Humayra is a young bank official

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