LEADERSHIP / NOV. 05, 2013
version 4, draft 4

Who is Trusted More: Men or Women?

We have all heard the jokes about women being terrible drivers; but now it seems that this lack of respect and disregard for their skills is also present in the aviation industry. A survey carried out by Sunshine.co.uk has shown that the majority of air passengers trust male pilots more than female pilots. Many of those polled felt that women would be either less skilled or react worse to pressure, than their male counterparts. The findings of this survey are surprising at first glance, as there are now many female pilots. Indeed, for years now women have been flying as fighter pilots, which is one of the most challenging roles a pilot can perform.

However, if we look at these findings in the wider context of gender equality they are not as surprising. While there are numerous schools of thought on this topic, the fact remains that there are more men than women working in sectors that are considered 'high-stress' and 'dangerous'. To further widen the gap between men and women, it is reported that women are usually paid less money for doing the same job as men. Britain is especially guilty of this pay inequality. However, is this due to a lack of trust in women? Are employers questioning their skills and dedication to the point where they simply will not invest an equal amount of time or money into their female employees as they do for male employees?

The Gender Gap

Some of the most high profile executives in the world are women. For instance, the CEO’s of PepsiCo, Yahoo and Oracle are all female, and trusted with running major operations worth millions of dollars; however, there is still a gender gap. According to the Harvard Business Review, women make up 53% Of Entry Level Employees, yet only 27% of Vice Presidents, 24% of Senior Vice Presidents and 19% of Executives in the C-Suite. It is clear that the number of women in top jobs is much lower than that of men. Sadly many professions including the aviation industry,  Law, and Politics continue to be predominantly 'boys clubs'. Is it that these jobs are seen as extremely stressful, and companies do not trust women to handle them? Or is it simply that these old boys clubs make it hard for women to enter the profession?

Employers doubt female employees' committment

The study pointed out that women tend to stay in their career for only 11 years while men generally remain much longer. This is usually due to women leaving to raise children or due to work related stress. So is it perhaps that employers do not trust female employees to stay with their company? This could itself cause a lack of trust between the employer and employee. Evidently employers are unwilling to invest time and effort into employees who are going to leave.

Julie Green-Jones, one of Britain’s top female executives, believes that the government targets for getting 25% top posts filled by women by 2014 in the workplace are an unnecessary form of positive discrimination. What we should be focusing on is getting the most talented person for the job not just the most talented woman. Her main point is merit before sex, race, or creed.

Overall, it is not completely clear whether men or women are trusted more in the professional world. From a customer's persepective, they may believe a male pilot or lawyer can handle the stresses of the job better than a woman, while employers may conclude that women cannot be 'trusted' to remain with their company for the long haul. Whatever the explaination, it is unfair for society as a whole to regard females in the working world with such low respect. 

Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your gender?

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