Of boardrooms and nursery rooms

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Arlene Merida-Granada

Arlene Merida-Granada

Gender inequality in the  Philippine workplace has not been completely eradicated. This despite the study done by Grant Thornton International Business Report which conveyed that 37 percent of the executive positions in the Philippines are held by women. Indeed, the number of female leaders in the Philippines is very promising. However, there is a nagging question that I can’t shake off my mind: If gender equality is the real deal, why are there still job advertisements which require female applicants to be single? Do companies have anything against married women?

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And so I remember the day I got married. I received an overwhelming number of congratulatory messages followed by wishes for us to have a baby soon. It got me to thinking that this is probably how our culture views marriage—that it is but an instrument for us to morally bear children. Forget about love and companionship; a colleague even told me once that getting married and not having kids is a complete joke. Well, so much for morality, huh? But that’s a different story.

I sought out informal views from different levels of society and I was appalled and intrigued by what I heard. Plenty of those I spoke to believe that a woman should bear children, be relegated to housework, and that if she decides to work, it’s supposed to be so she can help her husband with their family’s financial needs. A woman who desires to have fulfillment in her career or looks for achievement of greater goals is viewed as selfish and perceived to be unhappy. What’s so disappointing is that even women themselves actually believe that this is true!

Now, of course, I don’t have anything against women who prefer to stay at home and take care of their family. However, isn’t this supposed to be something that a woman should choose to do of her own accord, and not because society would frown at her if she prefers otherwise? And if she chose it of her own accord, isn’t it supposed to be because she had a choice in the first place and not because she can’t find a decent job? If our society has this kind of perception—that all women like to stay in the kitchen—then it’s no wonder that companies prefer to hire single female applicants over married ones. At least, they can hope that for a couple more years, their single female employees would have contributed greatly to the organization before they start to have children, and before their productivity is expected to decline at a consistent rate.

I furthered my investigation and stumbled upon a comprehensive study done in Australia’s University of Queensland that corroborated my hypothesis. Indeed, women are not in the top echelon of the workplace primarily because of our domestic responsibilities.

Sadly, despite having successful female movers and shakers in history, it will still take time to completely eradicate gender inequality in the workplace.

Arlene S. Merida-Granada is a faculty at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University (DLSU). She welcomes comments at arlene.merida@dlsu.edu.ph or arlenemerida@gmail.com. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators

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