Readers, today I will be answering three questions that may seem to have an obvious answer but it is actually more in- depth and like all things in life more complicated than it looks. Those three questions are;
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.
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.
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