Collaboration Over Competition Can Change the World
It’s 2020 and we still don’t have complete gender equality. We’re able to put a man on the moon, create weapons of mass destruction and do brain surgery yet gender equality is still attainable. The time for change is now.
Every year 3 million children die from malnutrition. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that girls are twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition that boys. While the global rates of child and maternal mortality have slowly been decreasing, approximately 800 women still die every day as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth – 99 percent of these deaths are in developing countries. We take education for granted yet more than 62 million girls are missing from classrooms around the world. As I write this, gender inequality is keeping women around the world from contributing to their communities and economies in the fullest and most productive ways. WHO reports that 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Gender-based violence is one of the most widespread violations of human rights.
Despite what a lot of people argue, gender inequality is still a real thing. The research is overwhelming and by denying the fact that it exists we are denying ourselves the opportunity of creating a better, more just world.
If women’s participation in the workforce increased, it would transform the global economy for the better. In fact, 36 percent of U.S. companies currently don’t have a single woman on their boards of directors. With more women were in leadership positions, everyone would benefit. Men and women are distinctly different (that’s a good thing) and bring very different skills and traits to the table. Gender-mixed leadership actually translates into better profits. According to a study conducted by Bloomberg, which compared similarly-sized businesses, those with women on their boards outperformed those with all-male boards by 26 percent. Imagine the growth potential of the economy if more women were give the power to lead.
If women were paid more, families would thrive. On average, women make 0.77 cents on the dollar as men do, for the same position with comparable experience. That means an American woman could feed a family of four for 37 years with the earnings she loses due to that difference. It’s worse in other countries. The pay gap in Korea is the largest in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Women’s paychecks are 39 percent lower than their male peers. Women are increasingly becoming the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, and as they do their pay becomes more vital to the wellbeing of their families. Imagine what a difference it would make in the quality of life of countless families if women and men were making the same amount.
If women had more training, they could change the market. Forbes reported that in 2011 the U.S. Department of Commerce found only one in seven engineers is female. Women have seen no employment growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs since 2000. Countries all need larger work forces skilled in these fields, in order to remain competitive in the global economy. Making up almost half of the world’s population, women could help tap into this multiple trillion dollar global technology market. Here in the U.S., women are so far behind in STEM that the Obama administration had made it one of their priorities to set up incentives in order to encourage women to pursue science and technology careers. Imagine how far we can advance in the world if more women were able to tap into this market.
If women were involved in more politics, we would have better policies for the poor. Women tend to speak up more for the needs of the vulnerable and advocate for the social safety net when they aren’t outnumbered by men. In one experiment, reported by the New York Times, which asked groups to set the threshold for public assistance, the groups with fewer women decided on a minimum income of about $21,600 per year for a family of four – close to the United States’ current federal poverty level – but in the groups where women made up 60 to 80 percent of the members, women elevated the social safety net to as much as $31,000. Enough to include many “poor” families into the ranks of the lower middle class. Imagine what a shift women can make in the socioeconomic status of the world.
For decades, women have fought for equal rights. We have fought to be equal to our male counterpart. We have worked to show that we are enough, that we are worthy. We have asked for what should rightfully be a birthright for every single human being. But we have ignored something very important. I propose a different solution…
As women, the power to change all of this lies within us. We don’t need to wait for others to pave the way for us or to give us permission to create a better world. As women, we contribute to this inequality.
Women compete, compare, undermine and undercut one another. I’m exhausted from going through this, watching other people go through this and trying to figure it all out. It’s considered exceptional, and shocking, when famous women like Amy Schumer and Beyoncé acknowledge that other women are talented, and frequently work with those other women without being competitive about it. Why should this be the exception instead of the rule? This makes them feminist heroes, which inherently is a great thing but this type of behavior should be the norm. We shouldn’t be shocked or surprised when women help and celebrate other women. There is immense amounts of research conducted on women and competition. In 2013, Tracy Vaillancourt, a professor and researcher at the University of Ottawa in Canada, found that women express indirect aggression toward other women, and that aggression is a combination of “self-promotion,” making themselves look more attractive, “derogation of rivals” and being catty about other women. Why? Because we want to be more attractive for our potential partners? Because we want to feel more worthy than what the world tells us we’re worth? Because we want the world to continue to feed off of our cattiness and expand the gender gap even more?
What would be possible if we dropped our notion of competition? What would we be able to create if we chose collaboration over competition. What kind of a world would we live in if we chose abundance instead of scarcity and kindness instead of judgment
It’s time we take this into our own hands. Instead of trying to be better than one another, we need to work together to become better, stronger and more just. Years ago, I took myself out of the battle and so can you. Instead of openly hating women, I used hate’s sneaky little sister, jealousy, and told myself that I envied women who worked hard to be attractive, who had jobs that utilized their feminine allure, who were outspoken and who who were “too girlie.” I looked up to them and decided that they are a symbol of what is possible for me. I became friends with them, did everything in my power to help them. I celebrated their wins, used that energy to better myself and reached back to pull those who were behind me to right next to me.
The research and evidence is overwhelmingly clear, we need women to collaborate with each other. We need to start shifting our thinking from competition to collaboration; we need to see each other as members of the same team. With over seven billion people in the world, there is enough to go around for everyone. No one is taking a piece of your pie. In fact, your pie can get larger when you choose to collaborate. We are stronger together. It’s time to shift our thinking to abundance, instead of scarcity. We’ve tried everything else, what do we have to lose?