Regarding the persistently existing gender inequality worldwide, the evolutionary economists would argue its inevitability as a result of survival of the fittest. While feminist economists would argue that the analysis of evolutionary economists is biased, and we should not take it for granted merely because gender disparity exists as a result of evolution. However, the intricate interactions between gender and environment is worth excavating. I am going to elaborate this concern from three levels of feminist economics.
Men Versus Women in the Economy
According to a report released by Deloitte, a global analysis of women in the boardroom in 49 countries, the global representation of women on corporate boards is rather low, only 12 per cent of board seats are held by women and 4 per cent of boards are chaired by women . Evolutionists argue that the reason for so few women in the boardroom is a result of survival selection. The male standard dominant cultural forms are accepted prevalently in the labor markets as a consequence of social variation, selection and retention.
In contrast, feminists have incongruent opinions. They think women’s volunteering household responsibilities tends to endanger their career performance and productivity in competitive work environment , thus make it even more difficult for women to obtain a seat in the top boardroom. We should not take the phenomenon for granted as evolutionists perceived and consider the difficulties rest with women’s own characteristics, we should focus on the mismatch between women and the male-dominant environment and offer the same opportunities for all. Evidence has shown that gender-diversified boardroom is positively related to firm’s performance . Thus, an inclusive environment should be guaranteed for all genders as mix teams create better outcomes.
Male Versus Female Economists
Nelson (1995) has pointed out that women were ignored or even excluded from the academic circles of economics historically. For several decades, the scarcity of female economists exists persistently. Even for Nobel Prize in Economics, Elinor Ostrom is the only female winner to date. Why women are scarce in economic academia? It is perceived that the mathematical skills and analytical abilities required by economics are generally a men’s comparative advantage. Evolutionists believe that this benefit has made a high threshold for female economists and only most men while fewer women are retained after the competitive selection in economic academia.
Feminists would disagree. Wu’s study has shown that women as a minority in economics academia receive attention disproportionately . A few studies have found that systematic barricades stand in the way to professional economists for women. Female economists confront higher standards in academic writing and get fewer funding opportunities for research proposals and promotion as men do. Female economists are generally relegated to a secondary position when competing with their male peers. It is undeniable that the fierce competition has limited a large number of females, but the fairness and opportunities of the competition is still debatable. The hinderance of female economists’ progress is not as a result of competition, but rather concerns with institutional environment of academia and marginalization in collegial networks associated with “unbreakable glass ceiling”. Another momentous issue is that the perspectives female economists hold mostly are about government intervention, environmental protection, gender and equal opportunities , which are different from the views of the dominant male counterparts hold (market solutions). Hence, the views gap results in weaker economic position for female economists.
Masculinity Versus Femininity
Nelson (1995)5 associated masculinity with hardness, rigidity and femininity with softness, flexibility, richness. How we identify ourselves as masculine or feminine depends on situations, specific matters and personal characteristics. Nowadays, we have masculine women, such as Germany’s first female chancellor Angela Merkel, who is influential worldwide and socially acceptable while feminine men who is labeled as a sissy5. Evolutionists emphasis that our world is rich, largely incomputable and evolve spontaneously . These masculinity and femininity traits have evolved to exist in both men and women. However, the masculinity traits are still advantageous and socially supportable while femininity traits not. Based on evolutionists, people who possess more masculinity traits are considered competent and outperform those with more femininity traits are considered as incompetent as a result of social evolution.
Feminists argue that both of them have valuable and harmful aspects depending on specific situations. Masculinity mixed with femininity would generate a balanced outcome5. The economic, social, political environment worldwide is so complicated that requires individuals equip themselves with comprehensive capabilities. Masculinity and femininity both play a key role, therefore, there is no benefit to pursue extremes of each trait5. The success of Angela Merkel is due to her perfect combination of masculinity and femininity traits. She is a tough, mighty as well as resilient, humanitarian politician. However, the world is still dominated by masculine standards, the femininity is valued less and biased by cognitions inherited from hundreds of thousands of years. People with more femininity trait does not mean they are incompetent, instead, they are inclined to apply flexible methods to resolution . Flexible methods are accessible to multiple possibilities once it is free from the standards designed by masculine society.
In conclusion, based on the analysis of evolutionary economics from three levels of feminist economics, gender inequality exists not as a consequence of evolution as what evolutionists consider, but as a result of mismatch between gender and environment where masculine standards dominate as what feminists perceive. Feminists think that evolutionists perspective on gender inequality is unilateral, a deeper comprehensiveness should be considered. Therefore, an inclusive environment and a combination of masculinity and femininity would result in optimal outcomes and make a real difference.