Battle of the sexes

‘This is a man’s world’, the famous words of 1960s song ‘It’s a man’s, man’s world’, by James Brown.

The question in the current day is: do we still live in a male-dominated world? The Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Ireland, first released a gender report in December 2004. The report was well-received and continued to be published on an annual basis. It outlines the varying domains and indicators between men and women such as: employment, religion, income and education.

The 2012 report conveys that women are more highly qualified than men, yet they work fewer hours and earn less, which doesn’t seem fair. However, when we take into account the high cost of childcare in Ireland, it is understandable that mothers may choose to work part-time as opposed to full-time. It would have appeared unusual to the norm of society if a father chose to stay at home 30 years ago, but it is occurring more frequently today as a result of difficult financial times.

The CSO releases National Household Survey results several times a year and the number of men occupied in full-time ‘home duties’ is on the rise, with approximately 7,000 stay-at-home dads in 2008. The times are changing and the role of breadwinner has been fluctuating between men and women, and why not? Men and women are equal aren’t they?

A report on the study of men and women called, ‘No Big Difference’, by the American Psychological Association explains that men are not fundamentally from Mars, nor women from Venus. Interestingly, it notes that ‘men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership’. A vast array of studies were carried out on male and female participants before the report was complied and it discovered that differences in gender appear to depend on the context in which they are measured, for instance, at times when men and women are not conforming to stereotypes relating to their sex, their actions are completely different.

Misconception plays a massive role in determining gender equality. Just because we think a certain way, does not mean it is essentially correct. “I feel that women’s rights aren’t respected as much as men’s in Irish society, this was highlighted recently as Savita Halappanavar didn’t have control over terminating her life-threatening pregnancy, which ultimately resulted in her death”, said second year Education and Training student Megan Dunne.

Men appear to hold reign in terms of decision-making on national and international levels, with a higher number of men than women in the Oireachtas and holding presidential positions. However, it is ironic that, according to the 2011 CSO gender report, although men have a higher rate of employment than women, they also have a far higher rate of unemployment.

With women being more likely to have a third-level qualification, over half (53%) of women aged 25-34 have a third-level qualification, compared with nearly four out of ten men (39%). We hope the days are far gone whereby a woman is declined a professional occupational position based on her gender.

Gender shouldn’t be a question now or in the future, as both men and women are ultimately equal.

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