- What is gender equality in engineering offices?
- Why is gender equality a necessity, nay, and basic human right of women in Pakistan?
- How can gender equality be achieved in engineering offices in Pakistan?
Defining Gender Equality and its practical implementation in our society:
According to GenderEquality.ie, gender equality means when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favoured.
Moreover, gender equality is seen as a real comprehensive issue not something that is “made – up” or seen as women being “demanding” or creating unnecessary “drama.” It is for this exact reason that “The European Institute for Gender Equality” has compiled an online Glossary of gender mainstreaming concepts and definitions, drawn from international and regional women’s human rights instruments, European Union and Council of Europe legislative and strategy documents.
The Council of Europe has also compiled a Gender Equality Glossary based on the definitions and terms of Council of Europe instruments and standards relating to gender equality and this is available online.
This goes to show that gender equality with regard to women’s equal representation in engineering offices across Pakistan is an issue no to be taken lightly, in the slightest.
This leads up to the second part of our discussion, why is gender equality in engineering a necessity, nay, and basic human right of women in Pakistan?
Readers, allow me to answer this question, with another question; why the hell not?
If a female male works hard, choses a career in engineering and on merit has the qualifications that cater to her profession in engineering to be denied a job/ to be denied to go into a specific engineering field , based solely on the fact that she is a woman is atrocious and highly backward.
I use the term “backward” because I have noticed many literate people also respond in a negative manner when asked about equal representation in engineering for women. They and I quote argue with a “logical” answer – women are only suited for certain professions in engineering and men are suited for other professions, thus the divide is justifiable. As, men dominate in some fields while women in others.
I’m sorry, (not sorry) to entirely disagree with this mind set. It is the right of the female to attain equal representation as a male in engineering regardless of the field.
Let her decide; let her prefer one field over another. Do not go about dictating what is “best” or “appropriate” for her and what is not. Maybe, you are right, maybe some professions in engineering are better suited for females than males. But let the woman go out and discover this path for herself! Let her be free to make her choices, learn from her mistakes; bottom line, let her live.
The last question to be addressed is how gender equality can be achieved in Pakistan practically in engineering offices. The feminist in me wants to rant “just use your common sense and hire more women people!”
But the fact of the matter is, it’s more complicated than that. That is why I have come up with a list of pragmatic steps that can be taken to overcome inequality at engineering offices.
- Give strict instructions to your companies HR department to hire people in a quota that balances gender equality division.
- Use the power of networking. Networking, mentoring and coaching opportunities can help women build confidence and develop their careers.
- Don’t limit your talent pool. Companies should aim for a 50-50 gender split in all their teams – right up to the executive floor. Offering practical support such as childcare, is part of this, as is the right attitude. It should not be a career killer for a man to ask for extended leave because he wants to look after his children.
- Make flexibility and work-life balance a part of the wider company culture. Too often, employees have to specifically ask to work part-time or work from home, which can be awkward. Companies should instead offer a broad range of different options.
- Be proactive about welcoming women. Companies in Pakistan should clearly state that they want to hire, support and promote women. Salaries and promotions should be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure equal treatment.
- Make gender equality part of training and education in kistan. Young people should be supported in choosing jobs that are future-oriented and promising, regardless of their gender.
- Rethink job interviews. The question: “What do you think your salary should be?” should be abolished altogether, as women consistently ask for less than men. Instead, interviewers should provide a fair and transparent salary range and ask applicants to position themselves within it. This is particularly crucial in Pakistan.
Mainly, these points were gathered from the author: Helena Trachsel. She is the Head of the Office for the Equality of Men and Women of the Canton of Zurich.
Some have put the debate forward that the reason there exist more men than women in engineering offices is because most women get married after their graduation and then when their kids are grown do not wish to continue their careers forward or make use of their degrees. Though, this may be true for some women there are several ways to go about such a situation in Pakistan. Some solutions have been mentioned below; as to every problem there is a solution.
- Provide employees with quality, on-site child care facilities for both mothers and fathers that work at your company. Work with your human resources department and management personnel to make sure that family leave is available to both men and women. This is a crucial step in narrowing the gender gap faced by women in Pakistan, in particular in the field of engineering.
- Showcase your company's successful women. There is nothing as demonstrative of your efforts to promote equality as the women who have achieved success because of it, whether they hold management positions or are rank-and-file employees. This is SO true as most women do like to learn and lead via example. If companies allow the successful females in their organisations to talk about their experience, in terms of managing work and family or work and children. The challenges they faced and how they persevered it can make a lot of a difference. It is this difference that shall motivate more women to enter and seek employment in engineering offices.
- Publicize your efforts to promote gender equality. Whether it's on your company website, in newspaper editorials or advertisements, let other companies, your vendors and the local workforce know about your dedication to equality in the workplace. Become a role model for other businesses.
Lastly, know that despite these changes which can be made on an organisational or individual level for mass change to occur and catalyse the process of merging the gender gap in engineering offices policy changes need to occur.
The article by the Houston Chronicle covers some impactful polices which I have amended so that they may be applied in Pakistan.
Step 1: Establish a policy that ensures that men and women are compensated equally for performing the same work. Beyond equal pay for equal work, the policy should also ensure that both genders are treated equally in recruitment, training, hiring and promotion.
Step 2: Establish a policy that allows both men and women to balance their work lives with their personal lives. This guideline would ensure that management supports employees' pursuit of further education to advance their careers, as well as family counselling, family time or other related efforts that assist employees in maintaining healthy and positive family relationships.
Step 3: Establish a policy that strictly and specifically forbids any form of sexual harassment. Either in the policy itself, or in a related human resources procedure, describe in detail the professional consequences that will result from harassment. Provide employees with an avenue for reporting such activity directly to the human resources department without fear of retribution.
Step 4: Establish a policy that ensures the non-discriminatory policies that apply to the company's employees also apply to all levels of company management. Gender equality means nothing in the workplace if it is not followed to the letter by all management personnel. Encourage managers to act as role models for non-discrimination.
As I leave my dear readers, here is a reflection question from Baha’I International community;
How does discrimination against women limit the ability of men and boys to develop to their full potential? How does it impact the progress and well-being of society as a whole?
How will progress towards equality transform various facets of human society: the development of intellectual life; the practice of governance; the allocation of material resources; the condition of the family?
I look forward to you as an individual and us a Pakistani community embracing the women of our society into not just engineering offices, but offices of all kinds.
Vivacious sand making waves