As a company owned, led, and run by women, March is an important time for us at Evident. This Women’s Month, we turn the spotlight on a project that influenced our professional and domestic lives.
From late 2018 to mid-2019, Evident aided Investing in Women—an Australian Government-funded initiative—to launch a digital marketing campaign that promotes Southeast Asian women’s economic progress and empowerment. During our engagement, we learned this: To enable more women to pursue careers, we have to appraise (and upraise) the value of work done at home.
Recent studies find that Southeast Asian women:
- are encouraged by men to find paid work outside the home – 62% of Indonesian men, 84% of Filipino men, and 78% of Vietnamese men;
- are equally motivated and ambitious as their male counterparts – Over 50% of women work for personal fulfilment and professional development. In Vietnam (56%) and Indonesia (48%), women’s main reason for working is for economic independence;
- and have better educational outcomes than men.
Despite all of this, women are still underrepresented and outnumbered by men in the workforce, especially in executive roles. But why?
Double Standards and Domestic Work
A double standard persists, especially for the middle-class Filipino household. Women can have jobs. They can share the role of provider. They can even pursue careers. Men will support women to do all of these, but this support often remains contingent on women fulfilling the role of homemaker and caretaker. Whether this means doing household chores or managing a housemaid or two, these “supportive” men still expect women to fulfill “a woman’s job” first.
This disproportionate designation of the responsibility of domestic work comes from its under-appreciation. Ironing, cooking, child rearing, etc.—many still dismiss these as easy tasks meant for the “weaker” sex.
These tasks, however, are the foundation of our everyday lives. Civilizations crash and burn in the absence of food, sanitary homes—or an ironed shirt. Absentee parenting can lead to behavioral issues in teenagers, who can grow up as problematic members of society.
To put things in a more definite, monetary perspective, a 2019 survey values the priceless job of being a stay-at-home mom at $178,201 per year.
In East Asia and the Pacific, women spend 4.1 times more daily average time than men on this unpaid domestic work. In other words, women work harder than men—both at work and at home—and get half the professional recognition.
Beyond the FIgures
With a predominantly female office, Evident realizes the balancing act required of any woman working outside the home. If we want to even the scales for more women like them, working outside the home, furthering their careers, and gaining economic independence, then we have to give domestic work its due credit—all $178,201 worth of it.
This degenders household tasks, making its distribution a matter of strength and capabilities rather than gender. It frees men to become more active participants in their home life. It allows women to dedicate more time and energy in furthering their professional careers.
To push this mindset, Evident’s work policies include an extended paternity leave for our male employees. This will help ease the pressure of new parenthood on young mothers by allowing men to be more active fathers. We’re also implementing a parental leave policy available to all parents with kids under the age of 18.
Through our work with other clients, we make a conscious effort to evaluate and produce communication materials through a gender fairness lens – to make sure that we aren’t promoting or reinforcing stereotypes or traditional norms that are barriers to women and men alike.
These may sound like simplistic solutions to a much more complex issue. But better a work in progress than no progress at all.
INVESTING IN WOMEN: The economic and social benefits of gender-equal homes
INVESTING IN WOMEN: Knowledge Hub
PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES: Philippine Institute for Development Studies