Pledge For Parity
Friday 11 March 2016
On Tuesday, 8 March, International Women’s Day offered us a chance to celebrate and reflect on the position of women in our lives, organisations, and society. The theme of this year’s campaign was #PledgeForParity.
I’ve always felt strongly that everyone should be treated equally, and wanted to organise something to promote the #PledgeForParity campaign. As a woman at the very start of my career I’m lucky to be coming into a sector full of successful and inspiring female leaders. International Women’s Day seemed a great reason to shout about them and assert that there can and should be many more.
With Good Women, a networking group for women interested in social impact, I organised a lunch at Olympus House to hear from people with different experiences. It was great that both men and women came along to discuss their thoughts. We talked about things such as the pay gap, period leave, and issues specific to the social care sector.
75% of qualified social workers are female and more male students are dropping out of social care courses than ever before.1 Caring is often categorised as a feminine career choice, leading some men away from a rewarding and worthwhile profession, and denying the sector the diversity a more balanced reputation could bring. This impacts on the people getting support; men who may want male staff for personal care for instance, may not be able to.
The chance to take some time away from the day-to-day stuff and speak to colleagues about broader issues and share ideas was great, even if we raised far more questions than answers. The route to gender parity seems to vary in different organisations, sectors, and cultures.
When I was organising the lunch though, it occurred to me that International Women’s Day isn’t just relevant for staff. For women with learning disabilities the same issues matter, and sometimes even matter more. We know that employment for people with learning disabilities is unacceptably low at 7%, but women are three times less likely to be working 30 hours a week than men.2 Women and girls with disabilities are also three times more likely than those without disabilities to experience physical and sexual abuse.3 These statistics affect the lives of the people we support and I think opening up the discussion about gender inequality, holding up diverse role models, and challenging bias where we encounter it are the first steps in tackling some of the issues.
The World Economic Forum predicts it’s going to take 117 years to close the gender gap, but I hope the non-profit sector will be leading the way, making it happen faster.
Marketing and Brand Assistant
1 General Social Care Council
2 Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, 2010/11
3 UN Women UK, 2013