Tag: gender

SA’s gender pay gap shrinks dramatically

By Carol Paton for Business Day 

The gender pay gap has shrunk dramatically, especially among low paid workers since the end of apartheid, but women at the top still face discrimination, a study by a University of Cape Town researcher has found.

In 1997, at the bottom end of the earnings spectrum, men earned 60% more than women. By 2014 this had diminished to 7%, said economist Jacqueline Mosomi in a paper based on her PhD thesis, published by the UN’s University World Institute for Development Economics Research.

The change is mostly attributable to the implementation of new minimum wages. Minimum wages for domestic and farm workers were introduced in November 2002. Women have also had better access to education since democracy, and marriage and fertility rates have declined.

“In general, in SA gender wage inequality was high because there were more women in low-paying occupations. There has been a substantial decline due to the implementation of minimum wages,” said Mosomi.

But at the top, despite having more years of education than men, women remain under-represented at senior levels and occupy jobs that are lower-paying. Mosomi’s paper found that more affluent and educated women were big beneficiaries of employment equity legislation and the gender wage gap dropped sharply from 48% in 1993 reaching 18% in 2014.

The Employment Equity Act, which requires companies to submit plans to the department of labour to bring the workforce in line with demographic categories, was passed in 1998.

“Women who already had high-quality skills were able to benefit from employment equity legislation but once that effect had taken place, the trend began to reverse. Now, even though women have more education than men they receive lower returns,” she says.

Mosomi says that the wage gap at the top does indicate discrimination but is also due to the type of work women do, which is often more administrative and less technical than occupations dominated by men.

Women in the middle of the earnings spectrum have benefited least in the post-apartheid era. At the mean — that is the half-way point in the wage distribution spectrum — the gender wage gap has hardly shifted. Men still earn 23% to 35% more than women. Mosomi says that other research has found that most occupations that fall into the median earning still tend to be male-dominated.

These jobs include elementary, service, craft or operational work. Gender analysis has shown that these occupations and the industries in which they are located are still dominated by men.

At the Jobs Summit held last October, Business Unity SA (Busa) undertook to encourage its members to voluntarily disclose the gap between the top and bottom paid as well as the gender pay gap. Busa said it would do this with a view to making disclosure compulsory over the next 12 months.

Facebook accused of job ad gender discrimination

Source: BBC 

Van driving, roofing, police work – all jobs for men. At least, that’s what a cluster of job ads placed on Facebook seemed to suggest.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday submitted a complaint to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Facebook’s advertising system allows employers to target job ads based on gender – a practice the ACLU says is illegal.

Specifically, the complaint refers to three women in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois who were not shown advertisements for what have traditionally been considered male-dominated professions.

The complaint highlights 10 different employers who posted job adverts on Facebook – for roles such as mechanic, roofer and security engineer – but used the social network’s targeting system to control who saw the ad. In one example, that targeting meant one job was promoted to “men” who were “ages 25 to 35”, and lived “or were recently near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”.

A separate investigation by ProPublica discovered what it said were more examples showing a similar pattern.

Earlier this year the investigative journalism site released a tool which readers could use to collect data on the Facebook ads they had seen, and send that information directly to ProPublica for analysis.

Using that method, the site said it discovered men were targeted specifically in dozens of cities around the US for driving jobs with Uber. This conclusion was based on 91 ads placed by Uber’s recruitment arm, only one of which was targeted specifically at women, with three not targeting any particular gender. The rest were designed to be seen by men only.

In a statement, Uber said: “We use a variety of channels to reach prospective drivers – both offline and online – with the goal of enabling more people, not fewer, to earn on their own schedule.”

Missing information
However, this data should be treated with caution. It is not clear that any broad conclusions can be made about perceived discrimination on Facebook.

While one advertisement in isolation may be targeting men specifically, there may have been an equivalent advertisement targeting women running in the same time frame – ads that may not have been picked up by ProPublica’s tool. Furthermore, if a user clicks on an ad to see why it has been targeted – as in the ACLU complaint – they will be told why they specifically saw the ad, but not details on the entire audience for the ad.

The BBC understands Facebook is in the process of putting together data to dispute the findings and respond to the ACLU’s complaint.

While targeting users based on gender may seem relatively harmless when it comes to, for instance, clothing brands, doing so for job advertisements may be against US law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically prohibits discriminating against a person because of “race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin”. The law applies to every stage of employment, including recruitment.

Facebook said it was looking into the complaint
“When employers in male-dominated fields advertise their jobs only to men, it prevents women from breaking into those fields,” said Galen Sherwin, from the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, arguing that “non-binary” people, those who choose not to identify with a specific gender, are also excluded.

“What’s more, clicking on the Facebook ads brought viewers to a page listing numerous other job opportunities at these companies for which job seekers might be qualified.

“Because no women saw these ads, they were shut out of learning not only about the jobs highlighted in the ads, but also about any of these other opportunities.”

Facebook said it was reviewing the ACLU’s complaint and looked forward to “defending our practices”.

“There is no place for discrimination on Facebook,” said spokesman Joe Osborne.

“It’s strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse.”

The company has recently removed over 5,000 targeting options for advertisers. The move was prompted by a lawsuit accusing the firm of unlawfully targeting users based on race or sexual orientation.

More women in tech can grow the economy

Despite decades of progress towards achieving equality in the workplace, women remain significantly under-represented in emerging tech. The imbalance between men and women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied unless organisations, schools and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the tech industry, and also educate young people about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world. This is according to a report issued by PwC’s Economics team.

The report, 16 nudges for more #WomenInTech, analyses the behavioural measures that bring gender equality to emerging tech.

Women currently hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81%. In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up 28%, with men representing 72%.
In South Africa, the proportion of females to males who graduate with STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees is out of kilter. Women are underrepresented in maths and statistics (4:5), ICT and technology (2:5), as well as engineering, manufacturing and construction (3:10), according to WEF statistics. As a result, there is a significantly smaller pool of female STEM talent, restricting the potential of South Africa’s technology sector.

Lullu Krugel, Chief Economist for PwC Africa, says: “The technology sector is an exciting, fast-moving sector, but disappointingly many women prefer to steer clear of careers in technology. Part of the reason is the low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and in higher education. Our research shows that unless we change various cultural and behavioural drivers within organisations, the matter is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.”

Economic benefits of advancing female workforce equality
Overall, the lack of female representation in the workforce and especially in leadership positions is a barrier to gender equality. Our economists estimate that if we close the gender gap in both representation and pay gap by just 10%, South Africa could achieve higher economic growth. Our calculations suggest economic spin-offs of an additional 3.2% in GDP growth and a 6.5% reduction in the number of unemployed job seekers. Closing the gender gap also helps to alleviate poverty: low-income households will receive an estimated 2.9% more income than previously. “Enormous economic opportunity lies in promoting gender workforce equality,” Krugel adds.

Although some strides have been made to advance women in tech, more needs to be done. To change the way talent is developed and deployed in today’s world requires the undoing and relearning of age-old thought processes and the formation of new norms and values – especially in the education system and labour market. Maura Feddersen, PwC Economist adds: “Biases are ingrained in our cognitive processes and undoing them is difficult.

“Behavioural measures, or ‘nudges’, are one instrument in our collective toolbox to correct for gender imbalances in education and at work. Nudges change the context in which we make decisions to help us achieve our goals. They can offer low-hanging fruit to promote female representation in emerging tech and establish new foundations for inclusive economic growth.”

Does education hold the key?
The answer is complex and education is one in a multifaceted interplay of drivers that will bring more women into skilled jobs, especially in STEM fields. Cultivating an interest in STEM fields must start as early as possible, at school and in higher education, for example. From an early age, behavioural design can help through de-biasing classrooms, changing how our children are taught, as well as through celebrating counter-stereotypical role models.

Why do we need more women in emerging technology?
Emerging tech is a critical field for women to help shape, as everyday our dependence on the speed and efficiency of new technologies grows. It is notable that in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a linchpin of emerging tech, women only hold one fifth of executive positions. If only half of the population designs technology, users are missing out on the insights, innovations and solutions of the other half.
Feddersen adds: “Fostering inclusivity, and bringing more women into emerging tech and the workforce in general, will help introduce new viewpoints and ideas to emerging tech.”

16 nudges to advance #WomenInTech
The report outlines some biases and countervailing nudges to assist organisations in the endeavour to correct gender imbalances, with a lifecycle view from school and higher education to hiring, career development and progression.

1. Work and school environments must be designed to moderate risk, as gender differences in risk seeking can bias outcomes. Provide frequent feedback on how well we are doing compared to others. Feedback can encourage the most capable people to participate in competitions and frequent feedback has been shown to encourage women to compete.
2. Furthermore, clues that trigger performance-limiting stereotypes should be done away with. For example, relocate the tick boxes where candidates are asked to select their gender and ethnicity from the beginning to the end of a test.
3. The tech industry boasts many exceptional female leaders. It is crucial to celebrate these role models and bring attention them, especially for girls at a young age. Initiatives in which female maths teachers or engineers, as well as male nurses and primary school teachers speak to schoolchildren can be powerful in the formative years for both boys and girls.
4. Further increase the fraction of counter-stereotypical people in positions of leadership, through quotas or other means, such as targets. While quotas or targets in themselves are no nudge, they can change men’s and women’s beliefs about what an effective leader looks like and address many of the biases that hinder gender equality.
“It is particularly hard for young girls to aspire to what they cannot see – seeing is believing. People need to see counter-stereotypical models for beliefs to change,” Feddersen adds.
5. Students’ attitudes can also be affected by subtle and simple changes. Organisations should consider diversifying the portraits on their walls.
In hiring
6. In the job market, many companies do not harness the full talent pool available. Prevailing gender biases limit both men and women, albeit in different industries. Gendered language in job ads and other organisational communications can ‘sort’ applicants before they have applied. It makes sense to purge gendered language from job ads and other company communications. This is especially important since women consider more factors than men when screening jobs – in particular, cultural fit, values and managerial style.
7. First impressions also matter in recruitment sessions. The importance of relatability extends across various platforms of recruitment activities, from job ads to recruitment events.
8. Furthermore, to unveil real talent, organisations can discover talent using ‘The Voice’ approach. This means circumventing gender and other biases and anonymising the hiring process as far as possible. Various tools in the market, including GapJumpers and Talent Sonar, have shown that blinded applications help companies successfully discover untapped talent.
9. Organisations should use predictive tests and structured interviews to evaluate candidates. Score answers to questions and score immediately after the interview. Furthermore, evaluate candidates in batches. By using comparators, the evaluators’ attention focuses on skills and experience, rather than stereotypes.
10. Ultimately, it is about changing norms. We should apply smarter messaging that celebrates successes in increasing gender diversity. Instead of describing the small fraction of female representation, focus messaging on the large fraction of companies with gender diverse leadership. This idea is rooted in ‘herding’. Descriptive norms, what many are already doing, turn into prescriptive norms, just by virtue of telling people about them. People are more likely to adopt a new behaviour if they know that many others are already doing it.
11. Panel interviews should be discarded: the ideal is independent, uncorrelated assessments, not influenced by what other interviewers think.
12. Gender differences in self-confidence are not only a concern in school and higher education, but also in performance appraisals. Self-assessments should be done away with wherever possible.
13. Research suggests that women are less likely than men to negotiate on matters such as compensation. Given the negotiation dilemma women face, external legitimisation helps them overcome the hurdle to negotiate compensation. Organisations should consider inviting team members to speak up and explicitly invite negotiations.
14. Legitimise negotiations through enabling people to negotiate on behalf of others.
15. The relative numbers of socially and culturally different people in a team can be critical in shaping a team’s dynamics. In teams dominated by one social group, members of the minority group can be tokens among peers. As a result, they may be unable to contribute their full potential. Organisations should include a critical mass of women in teams to avoid tokenism. Both ability and diversity are required to maximise collective intelligence.
16. Same-sex networks are also particularly important for women due to the relative scarcity of female role models.

Building the workforce of the future
Nudges are powerful weapons in an organisation’s armoury to advance female representation and achieve workforce equality. Feddersen adds: “Organisations can embrace insights from behavioural design through fostering a culture of data collection. Armed with data, organisations can measure which initiatives work and which do not.
“If we believe the future lies in STEM, we must train ourselves, and our daughters, in the relevant skills. Whatever our profession, let us rethink the way we apply our capabilities in light of the future of work.”

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