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Has the gender revolution slowed down?

Has the gender revolution slowed down?

Over the past few decades, we've seen major milestones for the gender equality movement. From the introduction of birth control and to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Has the gender revolution slowed down?

But has this progress been enough? A five-decade-long study has found progress on the equality front has slowed down since the 1990s.

The study, conducted by researchers at New York Univeristy and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked the progress in gender equality in employment and education in the US.

“Substantial progress has been made toward gender equality since 1970 on employment and earnings as well as in women’s access to certain fields of study and professions,” explains Paula England, a professor of sociology at New York University and the study’s senior author.

“However, movement toward gender equality has slowed down, and in some cases, stalled completely.”

The study looked at data between 1970 and 2018 from US population surveys and educational statistics.

“Early changes were like picking the low-hanging fruit — the most obvious barriers came down and plenty of women jumped at the new opportunities,” notes England. “Further progress will require deeper cultural and institutional change.”

Ups and downs in women’s employment

One of the key areas the study looked at was women’s employment. Analysing data from women aged 25 to 54, the researchers found employment rose steadily from 1970 to 2000 (from 48% to 75%).

After 2000, employment declined, plateaued and declined again in the GFC, before jumping back to 73% in 2018.

Pay equality plateaued

Pay equality is another key area researchers analysed. Comparing the median hourly earnings of men, which have always been between $22 and $25/hr since the 1990s, women’s median earnings have always been lower than men’s.

In the 1970s, they were stable and began to rise in the 1980s through to early 2000s. Since then, they have remained fairly flat at around $20/hr.

Progress in education

One area where women have seen significant progress in education.

By 2015-2016, women were outpacing men for bachelor’s degrees, with 34% more women gaining their bachelor’s over men. And 18% more women were gaining doctorates over men during the same period.

More work to be done in gendered occupations

Occupations still show noticeable levels of segregation when it comes to gender, meaning some jobs are mostly done by men and others mostly women.

Upon looking at the jobs requiring different university degrees – namely undergraduate and doctoral – the study notes a stalling in desegregation since 1998.

“The slowdown on some indicators and stall on others suggests that further progress requires substantial institutional and cultural change,” says England. “Progress may require increases in men’s participation in household and care work, government-funded child care, and adoption by employers of policies that reduce gender bias and help both men and women combine jobs with family care responsibilities.”

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