Geographic Discrimination Could Be the Reason for Gender Inequality
The concept of old habits dying hard rings true in a new study by a group of economists from across the world.
The findings in this study show that, even when race is not an issue (only white females were studied, to eliminate racial factors), American women from more sexist states were less likely to earn as much—even if they moved to less sexist areas—than those who started in more equitable states. It seems this gender equality problem goes deep.
Isolating the issue
When it comes to heated debates, like we’ve seen in the past three to four years, about gender equality and healthy workplace diversity, the waters are so muddied that the truly culpable factors get lost amidst the muck. What then, assuming it could be isolated, would be the reason for this discrimination?
Well, it turns out that some indicators pop up in these studies which might help answer those more existential questions about discrimination. For instance, in following professional females across a number of geographic locations, the study revealed that women from less “sexist” states fared better professionally; unintentionally proving that when women have more egalitarian relationships, they are more successful.
This is a key take-away since much of our modern rhetoric is about increasing awareness of the gap as a solution. As if simply seeing that women aren’t treated equally will make corporations change their thinking on a fundamental level—or, perhaps even more profound, that women themselves will change. Though that may happen to some degree, there are still deep-seated issues that exist because of the expectations set on women from where they grow up. Expectations that can affect a woman’s perspective of her own value.
The power of place
The fact that, even after relocating to a less-sexist community, women still performed as if they were lesser quotient, is a huge indicator that improving the diversity of our country has to start within our home towns. Realizing our own backyards is where this gap takes hold should make us more aware of how we treat the members of our community—as if their destiny hangs in the balance.
The digital age has blinded us to the significance of geographic location. Remote working, online business, and relocation have made many of us confused as to where we belong, or dismissive of what specific places can do to us. But, in spite of that ignorance, remnants of that location—of the community in which we first developed—affect our behavior for the remainder of our lives.
Thankfully, now that this connection has been brought to light, there is hope to help break the cycle of discrimination. Armed with this new insight, we must make every concession for women to get the foothold they deserve in the workplace. Because we can see that, until they find release from their past, they are too pinned by their cultural experience and their own presuppositions to do it alone.
Time heals most wounds
We realize gender equality isn’t an overnight solution—things that truly bring change rarely are. But, overcoming these presuppositions needs to start in wherever we raise our daughters. For, it will likely take multiple generations of women having equal opportunities before equality becomes permanent. And, in working for a woman-owned startup, Sage employees see first-hand how necessary gender equality is to the success and sustainability of any business.
The truth is, this issue is not going away any time soon. And despite having more of a voice now than in any previous decade, women are still discriminated against in the most fundamental ways every day. Empowering women, as the study shows, improves their chances no matter where in the world they finally go. And, by building equality into the women you know every day, you empower those women for wherever they end up.