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Are men and women equal?

Gender equality vs. Gender equivalency

Myiesha Taylor, M.D.Gender equality.  What does that mean?  Does it mean that women and men are treated the same?  Does it mean that gender roles are erased, and men and women both participate equally in all aspects of life?  Does it mean that 50% of the top CEOs and university professors are women?

Most people would agree that true gender equality remains a work in progress for the World.  When we are made aware of the statistics highlighting the disparities between men and women in pay, rank, respect level, advancement opportunities, and leadership participation, it becomes clear that we have a long way to go to close the gap.  But, is it even possible to close “the gap?”

Men and women are *different*.  Women are “failing” to create an equal world because the focus on “equality” is misguided.  Equal means that both genders have the same, get the same….are the same.  Since we are not men, pretending to be a man so we can make it in a “man’s world” is a futile endeavor at best, and a horrible set-up for major regression at worst.

Unlike the color of our skin, or even our age (to a lesser degree), gender makes men and women fundamentally different.  The way we think, our values, the way we operate, our emotions, and biologic capabilities are different.  Women worldwide have more in common with each other, than they do with men (even men in the same culture, ethnic group, or nation).  Biologically, this is obvious.

Many of the attributes we possess that are counterproductive in the top corporate offices, are necessary in maintaining balance in humanity.  When women are silenced, undervalued, or “morph” into men, these attributes are lost…and the world suffers.  This is not to say that the contribution of men is unimportant, but rather the contribution of women IS important.  To be made to “change” our natural instincts, inclinations, and push aside our inner desire to nurture babies, or interact with people in a fair and thoughtful manner so we can make it to the corner office, misses the point of promoting women as a woman.

Women should be celebrated as women - as different creatures, with alternate outlooks on the world, on life, on family, and on humanity.  Our unique contributions need to be recognized, celebrated, and valued.  Societies have various methods in their demonstration of “worth” and “value.”  In America it is money.  The problem is the work more commonly done by women is undervalued.  A solution is for society to compensate people for doing this work.  So I would argue, women should be compensated for being mothers, wives, elderly care providers, and this includes pay for maternity leave, child-care, elder-care, and arguably maintaining the house.  And if men engage in these activities, they should be likewise compensated to the extent in which they participate.  As such, in corporations, academia, politics, and service, everyone should be compensated appropriately for their contributions regardless of gender, to the extent they participate.

To this end, the equivalent contributions of both genders are recognized.  Instead of trying to achieve ‘sameness’ we should focus on increasing societal value on what we contribute as women.  The babies we bear, the milk we provide, the nurturing of young life, and the maintenance of order in our families.  Women need to be able to participate in leadership positions in society while still being able to be mothers.  Instead of being seen as a liability, a pregnant woman needs to be celebrated by society.  Perhaps a shift in what is “valuable” will allow this to happen.  However, as long as money rules the world, and women are paid less for their societal contribution, the gender gap will never close.

The solution is:  either change what we value as a society; or pay women with money for their contributions (which are *different* but equally important as those of men).    Strive for gender equivalency, and leave” equality” out – because we are not the same.