How gender stereotypes hinder economic development

World studies conducted with the support of Google and the Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum have revealed reasons that prevent women from participating in economic and political activities on an equal footing with men. We are talking about gender stereotypes, which, unfortunately, can still be universally observed both in developed world economies and in developing countries.

The study examines the situation with a female presence in the digital economy and public space, and also examines the Ukrainian labor market and its prospects for women. The focus is on the impact on these processes of gender stereotypes, for example, the views of society on the distribution of financial responsibility in the family and “suitable” professions for each of the sexes. Besides, topics of distribution of responsibilities in the family and segmentation of the population are raised.

Women in the Ukrainian labor market

Every year, the UN raises a theme dedicated to the struggle for gender equality, the empowerment of women. For example, last year the topic: “Women in a changing world of labor: Planet 50-50 until 2030” was raised One of the important issues considered in the framework of the struggle for gender equality is the achievement of equal rights in the labor market, the ability of women to choose any profession and be able to realize themselves in highly paid and important areas.

Among the total number of resumes on the website, 48% are posted by the fair sex. Their largest representation is in such professional areas as Human Resource Management (77% of women among all applicants), Accountancy (77%), Science, Education (76%), Administrative staff (76%), Domestic staff (73%). Whereas the smallest is in the categories: Workers (13%), Auto (11%), Mining (8%), Installation (6%), Security (5%).

The wishes of women and men almost do not differ in what kind of employment they expect from employers. The difference in both cases is 5%.

Moreover, both men and women equally want to work according to a flexible schedule.

The analysis of the CV base showed that in the Ukrainian labor market there are still areas with uneven representation of women and men. The top 5 areas with the highest representation of women included those that are stereotypically considered female. This state of affairs may be also derivative of how it is customary to raise children, what skills to develop in them, in which professions they are better realizing themselves. Nevertheless, some stereotypes are already a thing of the past. Both men and women want to have part-time work and flexible work hours.

Women in the digital economy

According to the study, 15% of Ukrainians work in the digital economy. Women and men in this area are approximately equally divided – 52% and 48% respectively. However, they occupy very different positions: women more often work as sellers, managers, and operators, while men more often occupy the positions of engineers, programmers, and system administrators.

Work in the IT-sphere is associated with a number of gender stereotypes. About 25% of Ukrainians are confident that women do worse in work related to information systems, e-commerce, and the exact sciences. Curiously, 55% of men did not agree with it, and a smaller number 48%, among women.

Stereotypes also affect the choice of profession for those who are just planning to enter the labor market. As a future field of work, a career in IT for sons three times as many parents as for daughters their parents are ready to recommend. As a result, teenage girls are twice less likely to say that they would like to connect their lives with technology (7% versus 14%).

Reasons for the formation of stereotypes about “women’s work”

A significant role in the formation of stereotypes is played by the way the image of successful men and women is represented in media, mass culture, and politics. The vast majority (83%) of successful people named by Ukrainians during the survey turned out to be men. Especially the dominance of male images is noticeable in politics (only 4% of female names were named), business (1%), and the digital economy (1%). Women are more often associated with success in show business (33% of women’s names) and blogging (32%), art (19%), journalism (18%), and sports (15%) – well, here they are called much less often than men.

This perception is largely influenced by social consciousness, upbringing, and family life. Here are some indicative figures on how, according to the respondents, the way of life in the family should look like, including the distribution of financial responsibility:

– 71% of Ukrainians believe that the main purpose of a woman is to be a mother and a good housewife;

– 89% of women believe that a man should provide for a family; only 45% agree that a woman should provide for herself;

– although 55% of married Ukrainians say that the most responsible decisions in their families are made jointly by husband and wife, in almost a third of families (29%) these decisions are made only by a man, and in only 15% by a woman;

– 32% of Ukrainians believe that a woman should choose between a career and family, this view is more common among those who already have children.

What can be done

According to the authors of the study, it is difficult to overcome these stereotypes and the imbalance in the representation of women in traditionally “male” sectors of the economy, but it can be done through comprehensive and consistent measures, including at the state level. Particular attention should be paid to the development of the digital economy, they say. It is the digital economy that contributes to the achievement of equality between women and men, opening up wide opportunities for online education, remote work, and building a business.

Possible measures include:

– conducting information campaigns encouraging women to be more socially active;

– implementation of the policy of equal pay;

– the creation of flexible work opportunities and suitable forms of parental leave for both women and men.

The issue of gender inequality has been raised repeatedly in the history of mankind. Now we can see shifts in a positive direction: women increasingly occupy senior positions in large companies, manage the business and large regions, but their percentage is still too small.

If the government seriously takes up the elimination of gender inequality in the Ukrainian market and begins to introduce the above measures, in a few years, we will be able to observe the very “50-50”.