November 13, 2014 — As a 21-year-old male, it saddens me to say that young men don’t always get why gender equality for women is still an issue. With women often accounting for the majority of graduates at our colleges and universities, it’s not readily apparent why they wouldn’t advance as quickly as males once they enter the workforce.
We see more women in leadership and public roles, and we’ve seen our own mothers combining careers and family responsibilities. Hooray! Gender equality must have been achieved, right? Not quite.
The state I come from in Australia has a gender pay gap of 25%. The fact that men earn 25% more than women is really hard to fathom. Young men and women don’t want to believe that this could be true, because it seems so contemptible that a gap could even exist, after all the progress women have made.
We Gen Y-ers were brought up believing gender equality had been achieved and the struggles that plagued our mothers and grandmothers had been dealt with by now.
We just expected that equality wouldn’t be an issue for our generation. So it’s confusing and frustrating to learn that this is still a problem. Young people, especially young men, need to hear about women’s struggle for equality. We need to hear why it hasn’t been achieved and what efforts are being made to address that. There’s been a lot of research, much of it at Catalyst, on how gender equality benefits everyone: men and women, businesses and communities, individuals and families.
One of the big myths about the gender gap is that if we just give it time, women will eventually catch up. It’s time to stop waiting and start doing.
In order to achieve dramatic, effective change we all have a duty to speak out and support women. Action is required from everyone—from the oldest company director through the newest college graduate. Young men and women cannot solve gender equality on their own.
We’re in this together—Gen Y-ers, Gen X-ers, and baby boomers—and we must work together to ensure that the gender gaps in pay, leadership, and opportunity do not plague another generation.