It's been 4 weeks since I bought my network bus pass for uni. 4 weeks ago tomorrow, I met the first 5 people from my university, and we all went to pick up our student cards... how crazy and exciting is that? Out of the six of us, 5 were studying some form of business, and one was studying Politics. Three of us were girls, and three were guys.
Earlier this year in April Catalyst released this article, which looks at the "Statistical Overview of Women in the Workplace". Although the website doesn't show a lot of statistics for the United Kingdom -where I'm based- I was shocked to find that the inbalance of women and men in top jobs was actually really significant.
The statistics that shocked me the most was the percentage of Women's Share of Board Seats at European Stock Index Companies. I've always assumed that by now, more women in the workplace are progressing in their careers. It's 2016, surely women have risen above the glass ceiling; a concept which two years ago at school I was taught was no longer relevant in the workplace today.
According to Catalyst, only 22.8% of board seats in stock index companies in the United Kingdom are taken by women. To me, that is shockingly low. In an ideal world, it would be somewhere around 50%, just like the split of boys and girls in the group of us that all met up four weeks ago to pick up our student cards, where three of the group were girls and three were guys. However, that's not the reality that we have today.
If the percentage of board seats taken by each gender was reflected in our group of 6, then 1.3 would be female, and 4.7 would be male. To round that up (because in reality there is no such thing as a third or a seventh of a person) one out of the six would be female. Is that fair? Of course not. But is that the reality? Shockingly, yes. Just when I thought getting a good, high end job when I graduate couldn't get more difficult, it now seems that I will face a huge disadvantage for no reason other than my biological makeup.
As if that wasn't enough to shake me up and open my eyes to the injustice that women face in top jobs, I also discovered that there is a divide in the amount of pay that men and women receive. Yet another issue that society has taught me is no longer relevant. Last Tuesday at my Management Lecture, I was told that on average female managers earn £31,895, which is £10,546 less than what their male counterparts earn at £42,441. Can you believe that? There is a pay gap of £10,546 among male and female managers.
So what am I going to do about it?
I have two options. I have to choose between being apathetic about my findings -and sit by and do nothing as I watch the effect of these inequalities unfold in my own life- and being responsive; deliberately and actively trying to overcome the hurdles that the workplace has set up for me and my fellow females.
The fact is, that I -just like so, so many women- have an unfair and unjustifiable setback in my career simply due to genetic "misfortune", so I'm going to have to work ten times harder than a man (with the same skills and qualities as me) to get the same job. And if my pay for that job isn't at the same level as the male equivalent, then I'm going to have to fight to get that pay. And if a man with the same skills, qualities and experience as I have is considered for a promotion and I'm not, then I'm going to have to stand up and demand that I too have a right to be seriously considered for the position.
It might not be fair that I, as a woman, have to work harder to put myself out there and ensure that I gain the same opportunities a man would automatically be preferred for. But I, as a woman, am not prepared to step back and let the male dominated workplace intimidate me. I need to see it as something which I can conquer. Because if I don't believe in myself and my rights, who will?