GENDER-BASED DISCRIMINATION: MYTHS AND FACTS
During our visit to MSU, Department of Labour and Personnel Economics, we discussed a relevant topic, gender-based discrimination in accessing jobs, with researchers. Anna Alyoshina, one of the best young teachers of the faculty, shared the results of her research with the EWC journalists.
– Equal labour of men and women is paid differently. How to oppose this?
– It often happens that when talking about inequality and discrimination the first question to discuss is gender pay gap. Actually, one should discuss opportunities in being hired, career advancement, and getting fired. Inequality and discrimination are different things. Inequality can be well-grounded by the specifics of occupation. For example, men prevail on jobs requiring heavy physical labour or with harmful or hazardous working conditions. Such jobs are paid better. However, this leads to high mortality rate of men at their working age. It is a very controversial issue whether women should be engaged in such jobs. Rather, it is needed to decrease the number of such employment positions in general.
How to face the obstacles in career in safe professions? Many aspects of this depends on us, women, on the fact whether we can prove our right to being decently paid. Our main problem is the existing mentality: people believe that there are only men’s and women’s occupations. In the first turn, we must oppose stereotypes. The research we conducted showed that stereotypes could negatively affect both men and women.
For instance, a man wants to occupy a top position of chief accountant but it is considered a women’s post. “Being a chief accountant is not for you. You must be at least a financial director”, he is always told and changes his decision. That is why, in the first turn, it is necessary to oppose prejudiced attitude.
– Please, tell us more about your research.
– We conducted a research on discrimination in Moscow’s labour market in terms of out master's program. We studied two branches: healthcare and education as women’s fields of activity and IT as men’s one. It turned out that women feel more comfortable working in IT and are pleased with labour conditions, payment, and collective there. We thought that the fields like IT have a much more noticeable discrimination. However, the situation proved to be quite the opposite. Unfortunately, our research is difficult to be applied to all Russia, as we explored the situation in Moscow only. Another interesting fact is that men are not taken seriously in women’s professions, especially at top positions. Thus, we can say that men have the glass ceiling in jobs traditionally considered women’s ones.
– What stereotypes prevent women from employment?
– There is an opinion that women take decisions slower than men do. It is considered that a strong men’s character is needed at top positions. That is why women are underrepresented there. However, we should admit that women easily cope with multi-task work and successfully think many moves ahead. There is a stereotype that technical occupations are for men only. I completely disagree with such an opinion. A number of women of my acquaintance are engaged in IT. They received special education, found employment, and now feel equal with men. A certain part of staff at our faculty provides servicing of remote education. They are women. Sometimes it is much easier to solve some problems with their help.
– Is it difficult for you as a young teacher to communicate with students? You are not much older than they are.
– There were some challenges but only in the beginning. I have been working at the faculty for 12 years. I combine many obligations, working with students is my favorite one. The most difficult was to be confident in your knowledge and skills. When you aren’t, it is quite challenging to communicate with your listeners. Nevertheless, self-confidence comes from your experience. I have been teaching for 5 years. I have several groups, and more than 250 students have finished my course. My experience grows every year, when I teach new groups, and I feel more free in communication with students. The main thing is to present yourself properly so as they could understand you are a teacher. I am so grateful to my colleagues. They shared their experience and told me what I should and what I should not do. During my studies, I was being prepared for teaching. Teachers invited me to watch lectures, to learn how teacher communicates with students and resolves challenging situation.
On the one hand, I used to be a student not so long ago. I understand my students’ attitude to studies. This helps me to interest them. On the other hand, I can give examples they are familiar with and explain information in a language they understand. This is an advantage of small difference in age. Thus, I consider this difference something that helps me.
– Do you think one should combine family and career?
– One necessarily should. In my opinion, choosing only one variant limits any woman. One should combine family and career, and if one has a will, one will succeed. I am not a ladder climber at all. I would like to have family and children, but I don’t have them yet. That is why now I pay much attention to work. When I have close people to care about I will combine family and career. I believe my working at the university will allow me to do it. In my opinion, a woman can’t develop in harmony when focusing on only one thing.
– Aren’t you afraid that it will be difficult?
– I am afraid of the fact that giving up some obligations at the university will be difficult. Nowadays I take part in a number of projects starting with research grants and finishing with preparation of students to begin university study. The main thing is to delimit family and work your life.
– What advice would you give to women?
– Trust people, don’t assume all the tasks. It is the basic problem, especially for women perfectionists. They’d better do everything themselves than share part of their obligations with somebody and thus they often do not have enough time. I also learn doing it and try to give some part of work to the younger generation. One should imagine a picture of one’s work and structure it in terms of urgency and importance. This is one of the methods helping me in my work. One mustn’t work alone. Feel free to take on certain duties and ask for help if you need it. The main thing is to believe in yourself and do what you love.
Yulia Yakovleva, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov
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