If you weren't already aware, I have a deep and passionate love for all things related to feminism and social justice. As a university student, I fell in love with the GSWS faculty (Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies) due to its focus on the ongoing fight for true equality in terms of gender, sexuality, race, etc. I also loved how these courses provided me with the tools to critically analyze our society's many shortcomings in terms of pop culture and media. So when my good friend Luvania approached me about posting a class essay on my blog concerning women in the work industry and that insufferable "glass ceiling," I was more than happy to oblige. I hope that you enjoy reading this piece as much as I did and learn some valuable tidbits from it as well!
To the Blog Host of What Doffy Does,
As a 5th year Communications major currently seeking employment in the marketing sector, I have an informed opinion on the current state of women's employment. More specifically, I am concerned with the employment rates for recent female graduates who are either seeking employment or starting their entrepreneurial venture in Canada. I believe that my piece fully covers this topic and provides viable solutions for this current issue.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards, Luvania Pathmanathan
The Unbreakable Glass Ceiling
Getting fired is never easy. In August of 2009, I returned home and was surprised to find my strong and confident mother crying. Why was she in tears? My mother was fired. After tirelessly dedicating 7 years to this company, her boss had lured her into a performance review, only to let her go. Fast-forward four years and she is still unemployed. Even after applying to countless jobs in the lower mainland, she has not been offered a position worthy of her expertise and skillset. I felt the pain my mother went through in the beginning but it is even deeper now, as I am a young woman who is also tirelessly working to achieve something great through her career. This leaves me incessantly asking myself, “What if I can’t find a good job after graduation?”
There are more young women than men in Canadian universities, yet fewer high paying jobs for this demographic. What is the correlation? There is none. The glass ceiling is ever-present right under our noses, yet we as young women even turn a blind eye. I cannot deny that our Canadian government has taken measures in overcoming this barrier. They have more than doubled the employment rate of women from 1976 (41.9 percent) to 2009 (85.3 percent). However, I am worried about the increasingly slow growth rate of women’s employment over the last decade.
Although unemployment rates have also decreased for men, the impact is not nearly as significant. Data shows that executive level positions are still majority held by men (i.e., the 1 percent). Therefore proving that men are still more easily able to climb up the corporate ladder.
Statistics Canada clearly identifies that even just from 2008 to 2009, women’s employment rates sank by one full percentage. Additionally, 7 out of 10 women are only temporary employees. This scares me… a lot. It also leaves me wondering whether there will be a seat in management, sales, or the boardroom for us up-and-coming, motivated, and intelligent young women.
If young women like myself are thinking, “to heck with finding a job, I’ll just start my own business,” we need to think again. The entrepreneurial sector is looking just as bleak. Roughly only 15 percent of Canadian small to medium sized businesses are majority owned by women.
There are women’s empowerment groups on both the professional and university level. These groups strive to provide women with tools, resources, and opportunities for career prosperity. Having been heavily involved in these groups, I have realized that they are insufficient and do not provide real solutions. They are more like putting a cast on a broken arm and wishing for a fast recovery. Putting it bluntly, it is all mushy, feel-good talk, with no action.
I have no choice but to point my finger at our Canadian government and businesses. It is the responsibility of our local and national businesses to ensure they are providing equal opportunities to their employees. Just as the Catalyst argues, diversity is key. Eventually, age and gender diverse companies will see increased productivity and profits.
Clearly, education is not the only answer. I want our government to assist in transitioning recent graduates into their careers, as students cannot rely on temporary jobs. Likewise, they need to consider laws and policies that will enforce an employment quota. This will directly help young women with post-secondary education and women in senior management. For young women with entrepreneurial visions, it is obvious that financing is a strong hurdle. This is why I want the Government of Canada to place funding, specifically for women under 30, who have a legitimate entrepreneurial plan.
I am tired and honestly sick of hearing stories similar to my mother’s. Women in this situation have been forced to low-paying jobs while men with lesser experience and education are earning twice as much. We as a society need to step in. We must ask questions to our political leaders. This will not only benefit you, but you will be helping younger generations. We must create good jobs and good wages for our graduates.
If you have been passed over like my mother has, you should not have a black trail following you. When you realize workplace injustice has occurred, take a second look to see what you could have done to alleviate the situation.
I have learned first-hand that hard work, education, and experience is not nearly enough to secure stable, high-paying employment. So what does it take? I guess a little luck.