It is impossible for parents alone to comprehensively change gender relations. However, when accompanied by other community interventions, for instance in schools and in the workplace, early childhood is a prime opportunity to create effective change. Supporting parents to promote more diverse concepts of gender with their young children may reduce rigid gender stereotypes tied to attitudes that support violence, and create a more gender equitable community in the long term.
Less well-known, but arguably a more pernicious problem, is the “glass cliff”. Originally recognised by academics Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam back in 2005, this is the phenomenon of women making it to the boardroom but finding themselves disproportionately represented in untenable leadership positions. Ryan and Haslam presented evidence that women were indeed starting to secure seats at boardroom tables. But the problem was that their positions were inherently unstable. These women would then find themselves in an unsustainable leadership position from which they would be ousted with evidence of apparent failure. The title of their paper sums it up: women are over‐represented in precarious leadership positions.
By comparing the benefits offered by different institutions, it’s clear that the better the package, the better it is for the career paths of female academics. This, in turn, helps close the salary gap between male and female academics. By contrast, poor maternity pay leads to an under-representation of women in higher academic positions, lower salaries, lower research outcomes and promotion, as well as lower fertility rates and higher rates of family dissolution.