Nature: The Biggest Discriminator in the Workplace

Man and woman: two different ‘types’ of human. The one being the hunter, the other being the caretaker. The one being the fighter, the other being the lover. And there are many more differences (or stereotypes) you could come up with. But one thing is for sure: both types are needed in the production of human life. And another thing is clear as well: the workload isn’t shared evenly between the two types of human. And I’m not talking about workload in the sense of keeping our economy going; in the sense of working and contributing ‘profits’ or other kinds of financial value to society. No, I am talking about the natural workload: the workload we humans have been endowed with by Mother Nature. And whether we like it or not, women are the ones carrying the burden. And the reason for this is as simple as it is unfair: men can’t get pregnant.

Surely: we should strive for a society with equal rights for men and women. Surely: we should try to make sure that men and women get equal opportunities in the workplace. And surely we should make sure that no-one would be denied any job solely because of the ‘type’ of human he or she is. However, the truth of the matter is that we cannot equalize nature. By that I mean that we cannot make men carry babies and we cannot make women not carry babies. The implication of this damn obvious fact is that there will always remain a (big) difference between men and women; a difference we cannot solve by non-discriminating policies in the work space.

So – given this observation – isn’t it (more) understandable why women occupy merely 14.3 percent of the executive officer positions in Fortune 500 companies? And given this observation, isn’t it (more) understandable why merely 16.6 percent of board seats are held by women? Maybe these low numbers don’t originate from a sense of discrimination by society; maybe they come up from a sense of discrimination by nature. And by that I am in no sense implying that women couldn’t be capable of reaching a representation of (at least) 50 percent in each of the aforementioned positions. I am only saying that it isn’t weird that women seem to have a harder time balancing their working- and private life. Especially when they’re pregnant, an ‘event’ preventing them (at least partially) from (temporarily) continuing their job-related obligations.

The consequence of this is that full equality, in the sense of equal representation of men and women in whatever kind of boards, might be an illusion. And again: not because men are better than women; because that is in no sense the case (just as women aren’t better than men). But simply because nature has put a burden on women; a burden that can’t be equally shared between them and their husbands.

But what do you think?

Written by Rob Graumans

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