Gender bias

 Almost 90% of people are biased against women, according to a new index that highlights the “shocking” global backlash to gender equality.  The UN Development Programme (UNDP), which produced the findings, is calling on governments to introduce legislation and policies that address engrained prejudice. Despite progress in closing the equality gap, 91% of men and 86% of women hold at least one bias against women regarding politics, economics, education, violence or reproductive rights. It found that almost half of people feel men are superior political leaders and more than 40% believe men make better business executives. (Guardian, 4 March 2020).

No one purporting to follow the ideas of Epicurus should be gender- biased.  Period.  As for men being better political leaders and business executives, that is total nonsense.

But by coincidence I was having a conversation with my wife about the difficulties of trying to run a business employing roughly 50-50 men and women, something I know about personally (now history).  We had a policy of giving three weeks paid sick leave a year to all employees, full of part-time.  We were always stretched, and if anyone was away sick, their work had to be done by someone, adding to the stress.  (I remember confronting one female employees who took her precise three weeks paid sickness allowance every year, and who told me to my face that it was “part of her holiday entitlement”. This was cheeky and ridiculous, but nothing to do with gender).

What was more troublesome was that the women were constantly staying away from work because children were on holiday or were sick, or some older relative needed their help.   This was a daily event for one employee or other.  Who will it be today?   (They also had more genuine sickness absences, although that was not their fault.)

I realize that society still expects women to be the nurturers and home keepers, and that makes doing a full- time job difficult to navigate.  But constant absences are also resented by the people in the company who have to fill in for them.  Because this resentment, if openly expressed, sounds mean and petty, most people grumbled to themselves and sighed.  But it is a problem feminist activists and elevated employees on the UNDP do not address and can be a real human problem.  It was regarded as unfair on women and men who had no children or elderly relatives.  I resented it myself, to be honest.

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