There are many topics to consider when studying gender. It is an important topic that has become more relevant and complex with issues like gender equality, same-sex marriage, and sexual identity being hotly debated in countries all around the world. With powerful movements like #MeToo, socially accepted changes like gender-neutral restrooms, and controversial accusations toward famous and powerful people, it is impossible not to consider gender as a global social and cultural issue that is a critical topic to study.
Regarding increasing our Global Critical Thinking (GCT) and intercultural communication skills, one area that needs to be explored first is the gap between genders across the world. When the gap is wider, that means that country has unfair treatment policies between women and men.
How can we measure such treatment? The Global Gender Gap Report (World Economic Forum, 2023) does just that! The Global Gender Gap Report is a list of countries and their global ranking regarding the disparity (or imbalance) between males and females. The ranking is based on four areas:
economic participation and opportunity
health and survival
Do women and men both work? If so, do they hold similar positions in various businesses and organizations? If so, are there equal chances for promotion into higher-level positions, or is it more difficult for women to gain higher status positions? What about owning businesses? Are women and men able to start a business, and receive support, such as bank loans?
Attainment, as you discovered from your vocabulary list, means succeeding in achieving or accomplishing something that you wanted. Education attainment, therefore, means the ability to receive an education. In some countries, women have equal chances to receive an education, including receiving benefits, such as scholarships from their government or school. For others, it is extremely difficult and, in some cases, impossible to receive an education. Depending on the area, seeking out an education can be dangerous!
How healthy are men compared to women? Are there big differences in the health services that are available for both men and women? What is the survival rate for male and female babies?
Finally, politics have been dominated by men for centuries. How much do women participate in local and national politics? For some countries, women have become the political leaders, and have proven that they are just as capable as men of holding positions of power and authority. For other countries, unfortunately, women do not have many (if any at all) chances to join political groups and hold government offices.
Before looking at the list, think of the country where you were born. How do you think this country scores in these four areas? For each one, write a few examples of how the country does a good job or a poor job at supporting equality between men and women. After you finish writing comments and examples, rank that area from 1-10 (1=poor, 5=ok, but could improve, 10=excellent).
When you’ve completed all four, guess what ranking the country you chose received in the Global Gender Gap Index.
When you’re finished with everything, share your chart with a partner or small group!
To put the scores into a “West versus East” (or individualist versus collectivist) perspective, here is Japan’s ranking:
What do all these rankings mean? According to the Global Gender Gap Report (2023), “In 2022, the global gender gap has been closed by 68.1%. At the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach full parity. This represents a slight four-year improvement compared to the 2021 estimate” (World Economic Forum, 2020, p. 5). Ranking countries by how large or small the gap is between genders will help decrease the gap, making all countries better places to work, live, and thrive for both men and women.
Progress to close the gender gaps is slow, though, and while some countries have moved up in the ranking, others have fallen. Also, countries that are modern, technologically advanced, and claim to offer fair opportunities to women, like the United States and Japan, are ranked low in the list. But why? Let’s talk about it!