This first part of the report showcases information, reasons behind existence of gender discrimination and also contains Swinburne University community’s perspective and point of view on gender discrimination and also states techniques with which that information was obtained.
Gender discrimination is when a person is treated unfairly based on their gender (Cambridge Dictionary n.d.). Since 2018, the gender disparity was already 32 % on average, according to the Global Gender Gap Report survey of the World Economic Forum. Women consistently remain behind men in democratic representation (Marcelo 2019). The effect of gender inequality is demonstrated by the 52 per cent of females who claimed their jobs has a damaging influence on their mental wellbeing, compared to 42 per cent of men (Siddique 2018)
In an article by Dunham and Leupold (2020, p2-3) identified that interactions, particularly those between male workers, affect access, working conditions, and incentives for change. When males become the community that governs everything, that category can continue to characterize as ‘fit’ and ‘success’ in consideration of the few who suit and become efficient in the office. The sexism-based atmosphere serves to perpetuate gender roles, thereby reinforcing the prejudices among male workers whether aware or unconscious and culminating in a patriarchal working climate for women trying to enter or progress.
As time is passing many counties companies and organizations started to discourage gender discrimination by giving women and men same opportunities, but if the core of sexism is not identified then even if we try to solve the issue it might not help at all.
As stated by Poston et al. 1997 (cited in Jiang, Li, and Feldman 2011) Rising sex ratios at birth (SRB) and excess female infant mortality (EFCM) result from the heavy son privilege and prejudice against women.
Social institutions set the terms of what decisions, choices or behaviors in a society are considered acceptable and thus play a vital role in describing and controlling gender roles and relationships. However prejudicial social structures are those that exclude women from access to jobs, resources and power that obstacles development (Cerise and Francavilla 2012).
Ethnic and identity specific societies adopt and uphold conventional patriarchal gender standards and roles, police the borders on what they consider to be and are not culturally appropriate – imposing conformity by abuse, intimidation, exclusion. Culture affects the manner in which gender abuse is viewed: dismissed as an unintended problem by culture, utilized by groups as a plausible excuse, or related to structure generalizing (Asian Pacific Institute on Gender Based Violation 2020).
Therefore, it appears tough to change the society’s perception on gender discrimination. Extreme and recurrent discrimination may have lasting consequences. Gender inequality may result in poor mental wellbeing (Alyssa 2020).
Overall, the above evidences suggest how this issue has been a problem globally.
This report seeks to investigate the general opinions and experiences of Swinburne Sarawak community on how to minimize gender discrimination and how do they think it will affect the society.
The research questions are:
- Do male and female students at Swinburne Sarawak both face gender discrimination issues?
- Where have Swinburne students faced gender discrimination?
- Do Swinburne students think that this issue can lead to something damaging in the future?
- Do Swinburne students acknowledge this social issue as a serious problem?
- What are Swinburne students’ thoughts on ways to decrease gender discrimination?
There are two methods used for this report to obtain data, which are primary research and secondary research. For primary research, questionnaires will be design by the group members. Then, 30 questionnaires will be sent by email and online platforms to students of Swinburne so that they can answer the question included in the survey. The questionnaires may compose of an accessible and closed questionnaire.
For secondary research, details would be obtained from fictitious sources. This expertise will be used to counter the details obtained from the questionnaires that have been conducted. The fictitious sources come from online newspapers, magazines, journal and internet sources including online database and Swinburne library database.
The answers to the questionnaires represent just the people at the University of Swinburne. The outcome does not reflect the views of all students at the University of Swinburne due to lack of timing. The input received comes from just a portion of the Swinburne students.
Findings from other sources
Gender discrimination in the past and fight for female representation and right to vote
This chapter reviews the history of gender discrimination, gender inequality in the 21st century, effects of gender discrimination and ways to decrease this social issue.
Gender is a belief and the concept of gender often refers to social beliefs which legitimize gender discrimination (Azmawati 2019). The fight for gender equality was thought to have begun even before the civil war. This fight was mainly to give women their rights to vote. Females were subjected to extreme sexism across history, including the absence of civil freedom and liberty from their spouses because they were thought to be inferior (Kitch 2012). There were very few individuals who were allowed to vote in the early 1800s and all of them were males, women did not have a say (BBC 2018). It was on July 19-20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, that the first assembly dedicated towards women’s rights took place (United States House of Representatives 2007). Then finally in 1918 a law was passed, which was the 1918 People’s Representation Act, that permitted females who were older than 30 and had a house (or married to anyone who did) were allowed to vote, but when it came to governance males and females often did not have the same privileges. (BBC 2018). In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of UK and The United Nations Committee on the Abolition of Violence against Women (CEDAW) was set up (British council 2020). Women were finally being recognized.
Gender inequality in the 21st century
But even in the 21st century when women have the right to vote, study, work, have their own business some studies show that a considerable percentage of women still face gender discriminatory behavior.
Discrimination at the workplace and during elections
Women also experience these kinds of discriminatory act in their workplaces or even while looking for a job. 31 percent of young females registered gender discrimination while at work or searching for jobs 19 percent claimed they are earning less for equivalent positions than their male co-workers (Siddique 2018). Women throughout the political spectrum confirmed abuse in Kenya’s 2017 elections, also none of the 53,000 registered woman voters engaged in one of Pakistan’s 2015 election because of being harassed (Ngcuka 2018). Despite women making progress in workplaces, discrimination still exists (Harvard Division of Continuing Education 2020),
During the MeToo in 2006 women uncovered the daily existence of gender-based abuse, assault and inequality in different forms and certain offenders were also being held responsible (Jakobsdóttir 2019). Even after exposing so much gender based abuse still around 50 % of the world thinks men make better leaders, and over 40% believe that men can be better managers and that males have the right to work while there is lack of jobs, 28 % believe a man can abuse his wife (United Nations Development Programme 2020). Gender inequality still appears to be a growing problem.
Laws discriminating against women and men facing discrimination
There are more than 150 nations with laws which oppress women and these involve family rules, criminal codes, rules on immigration, and laws on succession, property possession, and management of assets (Ngcuka 2018). Women appear to be oppressed in countries with these kinds of laws. Studies show not only women, but also men face discrimination because of their gender. A survey showed that nine in ten teenage boys claimed being forced to be ‘manly’ through abuse, shaming, taunting, social isolation and physical and psychological aggression. The survey also revealed 90 percent of the boys had ‘gender policing,’ and the most prevalent types of these harassment were advised to ‘man-up’ and ‘take it like a man’ (Association of Women for Action and Research 2017).
Findings on possible effects of gender discrimination
Gender discrimination has possible effects on many different sectors.
Firstly, it possibly can degrade economy of a nation. Hampering billions of women from reaching their full aptitude and claiming their right to a complete balanced existence affects the global economy (Mcbain 2014). However, gender equality may positively affect the economy. A study revealed that under a ‘maximum opportunity’ situation during which women perform the same part in job markets as men, almost $28 trillion, or 26 %, could be added to global annual Gross national product by 2025 (Woetzel et al. 2015).
Imbalance in birthrate and population
Secondly, gender discrimination could be the reason for an imbalance in birthrate and population in some countries around the world. Birth data and sample date show a large percentage of male children births particularly in India and China, indicating abortion of female fetus and infanticide, in spite of efforts to abolish such traditions in both nations (UNICEF 2007). This information portrays that being discriminatory towards female children is the reason behind imbalance in population in China and India. In Japan, stereotypes against working women and mothers are leading to declining birth rate as becoming the perfect mother, combined with a corporate world demanding long hours of employment, simply makes having children very challenging for professional women (Harvard Division of Continuing Education 2020).
Thirdly, gender norms can strengthen behaviors that maximize health hazards (Selby 2018). In Nepal, menstruating females who are considered impure get sent to huts or sheds of domestic animals (Sharma 2019). An outrage contributed to an investigation into the Hindu banned ‘chaupadi’ tradition, after the death of individuals in two separate incidents (Sharma 2019). A study shows that gender disparity affects millions of people physically and mentally, notwithstanding the advantages that it provides to men through wealth, influence, dominance and control (Dakin 2020). Another research also showed that witnessing gender discrimination was linked with symptoms of depression in women with children and that discrimination based on gender allows harmful changes in the body to take place (Digitale 2020).
Girls missing school
Continuing numbering fourthly, study shows globally there are 63 million girls not in school, the drop-out percentage is high before the child hits secondary school (Olorunshola 2016). According to a report from World Bank (2017) because of child marriage child brides are more likely to leave school and this damages their schooling and wellbeing, and their capacity to make a living. Werft (2017) states that overall, 1 million girls fail to attend up to 20 percent of their academic year as they do not have exposure to menstrual cycle monitoring resources because of unavailability and expenses. Inadequate and unsafe living standards in university education systems may restrict female students to obtain university services securely (Newman et al. 2016). Shaha (2013) states in a piece of writing that the situation is not so positive as one considers girls’ education in India.
Discrimination leads to violence
Lastly, sex inequality also increases the risk of people committing violence towards females (World Health Organization 2009). Cultural views believe males have the right to dominate females and make women and girls susceptible to male physical, mental and sexual abuse. This often obstruct the willingness of those impacted to run away or receive help (World Health Organization 2009).
How gender discrimination can be decreased?
Researchers have suggested ways to decrease gender discrimination/inequality/ sexism in order to build healthier environments for people to live in. Firstly, school-based programs aim to tackle social roles and inclusion before gender expectations are firmly rooted in children, other programs tackle social roles, dating harassment and sexual exploitation among adolescents also there are community initiatives aimed at promoting equal representation typically try to motivate women, improve their economic status and shift gender expectations and stereotypes (World Health Organization 2009). However, a writer for Global Citizen Olorunshola (2016) suggests unless universal education is brought to reality, global inequalities cannot end. Another suggestion made by the Harvard Division of Continuing Education (2020) suggests as a community, everyone needs to start inspiring people to move past stereotypes and consider the benefits that a person, man or woman, may bring to the workforce and to relations at home.
Previous research on this topic shows the fight to establish gender equality started even before the 19th century and still is an active fight in the 21st century. Research also showcases the milestones achieved to end gender discrimination, the facts to make people more aware of the damaging effects of gender discrimination on different sectors and also suggest ways to decrease gender discrimination. Even though research shows women tend to face more discrimination then men, there is no convincing research on the reason behind this problem. That is why the group has decided to survey students of Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak to gather their perceptions on the reasons for the high cases of gender discrimination against women. The results are expected to not match the previous research.