The Myth of Gender Equality…

Gender Equality is one of those phrases people like to use. Every company and every public body needs to have a gender balance between 60%/40% and 40%/60% in top positions, not because women need to be treated equally but because both sexes are needed to produce stronger, more diverse and balanced activities. Neither men nor women have magic powers to get things right but together there is a greater possibility that they will succeed better. 

You can use the phrase “Gender Equality” to demand equal treatment of women at the workplace, or you can use it to polish your image or brand. The first is normal and important, the second is mainly a disguise to give an impression of something that is actually not happening – that is lip-service, insincere and often deliberately misleading.

The Nordics talk about it a lot and prove that they were one of the first democracies to allow women to vote.

Gender equality is in the media every day but it is lip service to something that still is a long way from happening.

Gender equality needs to happen but there is an embedded barrier to that happening any time soon here in the Nordics and that barrier is much higher elsewhere. 

Gender equality is far from happening even though and you can see it in the most basic attitudes of society – and the media exploits this to the fullest…

… and I do not mean the media in the theoretical sense but in the very concrete manner of how the biggest newspapers in Finland, Alma Media Plc, the Sanoma Group Plc and for example Murdoch’s News Corporation make money exploiting this. There are hundreds of media companies that use gender inequality to boost their profits and in so doing solidify entrenched attitudes that smother the needed reforms to achieve gender equality. 

The tabloid press is found of publishing exposed young women and other malicious stories – it sells newspapers and advertising but does little to help women to be taken seriously. Rupert Murdoch, the media oligarch has used his empire to support Trump and Johnson. That link underlines their attitude to gender equality. Nothing more needs to be said on that matter which is so ubiquitous.

Let’s take the business media next as great example of how they manage gender (in)equality. 

“Investing is the sphere of men” – they run occasional articles for female investors as if there are real differences of financial needs between the two sexes!

The main Finnish business newspaper, Kauppalehti, keeps on running the same picture month in month out on their website of two smiling men who are portrayed as financial and investment gurus! 

The same group, Alma Media, has been writing about female CEO’s as if they are a new wonderful invention like sliced bread. They recently crucified one female CEO who lost her job as CEO of Nokia Tyres with the following headlines: “Hille Korhonen was like poison for Nokia Tyres”, Kauppalehti 27.5.20! The same could be said about at several dozen quoted Finnish companies whose shares have fallen by much more than 30%, (the recent percentage fall of Nokian Tyres share price) – the biggest bank, Nordea, the biggest energy company Fortum, the biggest network company, Nokia, one of the largest construction companies, SRV… The list is long but none of their CEOs or their (male) responsible board members have been described “poisonous” in the same press!

Female CEOs are seen here as something strange – one hears stories that female CEO’s must be stricter and more driven than men to prove themselves… oh, the myths that get published and believed. Most women, like most men, can hold any suitable position with equal skill and application if given half the chance – it is just that OBNs (Old Boy’s Networks) are reserving the best positions for their male mates. 

How else can you explain that men dominate board rooms by over 70% year in, year out.

Then there is the regular column about how many women are found in the board room – it has been around 25% to 30% for the last decade! The same faces from the same family owners or just the same people circulating in different boards… the point is that more women could have easily been appointed to boards but the OBN is not allowing them in. This big scam is based on the myth that women have obligations to spend time with the family (pregnancy and care of the elderly parents) meaning that they seldom rise to CEO’s where they can gain sufficient experience to be board members. The same media also propagates the story that women unwilling or cautious in taking board responsibilities!

In politics we can see some really important changes from having women in politics – Finland is a good example much to the dismay of the male led parties in opposition! The same can be said of New Zealand, Denmark, Norway and Germany. The only problem with this list is that it is not only too short but almost non-existent! Just stop and think for a moment about those wonderful irreplaceable gentlemen like Trump, Putin, Xi, Kim, Johnson, Macron, Bolsonaro & Co. (sorry if your own country was left out but it would take a whole page top list them all here) – they are all doing god’s work for themselves and not for the good of their respective countries…  

The good news is that the number of female CEOs, board members and political leaders is increasing and perhaps by 2050, the Climate Change date, we will see parity in the Nordics, although I doubt that this will be the case in the rest of Europe or in the United States.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons from the Collection of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union Photographs (1885-1985)

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