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The Women Labor Force and Its Role in Globalization

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The women labor force and its role in globalization

How far is the process of equality among genders in the working world advanced? Are women really equally treated when it comes to wages and working chances? Is the employment situation for women really fair or are there obstacles making it harder for women to enter the labor work force? How hard is for women to get top managerial jobs? Are there are any barriers which make this process more difficult? These are all questions that many women today have to confront themselves with when entering the global labor work force. In my paper I shall, by means of examples, firstly analyze some particular cases in large companies and organizations to find out how fair the employment situation for women really is and secondly interpret how globalization might affect the employment possibilities.

Women in the UN

When looking at a report from Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, the proportion of women in the UN at the levels in the Secretariat, with contracts for one year or longer, rose 1.7 % last year to 37.4 % on the end of June of this year. Furthermore, 83.3 % of staff at the lowest professional level, called the P-1, was made up by women but only 16.7 % of the highest staff level, the Under-Secretaries-General, was formed by women. What are the reasons for that? Is it more difficult for women to get employed at the highest staff level? What the report in general showed was that the analysis of the longer-term trends portrayed a picture of uneven progress in women's representation at all levels. The reasons for that included unacknowledged biases among hiring managers who are not being held accountable. Moreover, another cause related was that the expectations were that managers must work long hours and always be available thereby fostering imbalances between work and home life. In addition, jobs for spouses of UN employees are not always easy to find in UN host countries according to the report and permission to work is sometimes slow in coming, making transfers impossible for some families. Like for every other company or organization the goal should be to have evenly distributed work chances for both genders which should also be reflected in the employment policy of the company. The annual growth rate towards this evenly distributed employment goal in the UN is expected to rise by only 0.4 % in professional and higher categories for appointments of one year or more. For positions filled according to geographical region, women make up 42.3 % of staff and the ratio is growing by 1 % per year according to the report. Although, "the United Nations are trying to create a work environment that is free of harassment, especially sexual harassment, and is remaining firmly committed to a zero-tolerance policy in this regard", it is quite obvious that at lot of obstacles to women's advancement in their jobs are present. It should be stressed however that these barriers to career progression for women become more informal and, thus, harder to identify, especially at the more senior levels of the United Nations. Women still, when entering the global labour force, have to face higher unemployment rates and lower wages combined with this "hidden" discrimination. Additionally, the chances to top managerial jobs remain slow, uneven and sometimes discouraging. Or is there any reasonable explanation why women cannot work long work hours and be always available and men compensate the home life?

Women in the UN Secretariat:

Change in % (1996 and 1999 compared)

Note: Data is from June 30, 1996 and June 15, 1999. Some of the data from the original UN tables was left out, showing the lower grades of P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4 and P-5. These levels are represented by the row "other". The table shows the highest grades at the organization - Secretary General (SG), Deputy Secretary General (DSG), Under Secretary General (USG), Assistant Secretary General (ASG), D-2 (the upper-level "Director"), and D-1 (the lower-level "Director"). Also note that the position of DSG did not exist in 1996 .

*The Secretary General names all persons occupying top positions at the level of Under Secretary General (USG) and Assistant Secretary General (ASG). The tenured International Civil Service ranges from D-2 (the upper-level "Director") and D-1 (the lower-level "Director") through the "Professional" levels of P-5 to P-1. D-2 ranks as the highest level within the International Civil Service, while P-1 is the lowest.

General information about women opportunities

The issue of equally work opportunities for both genders is not just an issue in the UN; it is a daily topic all around the world. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) , last year, some 1.1 billion of the world's 2.8 billion workers, or 40 %, were women, representing an increase of nearly 200 million in the past 10 years. Through this increasing number of women in the labor force, equal chances of reaching the top of the jobs ladder should be present. According to the ILO, the explosive growth has not been accompanied by true economic empowerment for women. Neither has it led to equal pay for work of equal value nor to balanced benefits. Women's share of managerial positions in some 60 countries ranges between 20 and 40 %. Therefore, true equality in the labor force is still not accomplished. While the gap in numbers has been closing in all regions since 1993, the rate has varied widely. In the transition economies and East Asia, the number of women working for pay per 100 men is 91 and 83, respectively, but in other regions such as the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, only 40 women per 100 men are economically active. This is a quite scary number indicating that in those areas the role of the woman in the work force is not that great as it might be for example in Europe. These number talk just about the general employment situation. But there are also parts in the labor work force that only concern women. The role of the woman in society in the Middle East, Asian or African countries for example is far more different than in the western world.



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