THE GENDER GAP
This week saw some interesting and depressing turns in the ongoing battle to end the Gender Gap in this country. It started in Indian Wells, California at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament when the CEO of the tournament Raymond Moore made a few embarrassing remarks that ended up costing him his job. He said “If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank god that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport”. His reference was an attempt among other things to undermine the position that women tennis players receive equal pay as the men for winning tournaments. His contention appeared to be that men are responsible for the big crowds and the TV ratings. Recent facts don’t support his position.
Mr. Moore then went on to compound the situation and state that the women’s tennis tour has “a few very, very attractive players”. Sexism and the Gender Gap wrapped up together by Mr. Moore who later made an attempt to apologize for “comments about the WTA [Women’s Tennis Association] that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous”. Mr. Moore then resigned from his position as the CEO of the tournament. I think we can all speculate on the scenario that led to his voluntary resignation.
Mr. Moore’s remarks illustrate the tremendous challenge faced by women in their fight to end the Gender Gap. Even when an objective is achieved it still has to be defended. The fight continues to hold onto what has been gained; there is no rest in this struggle. The struggle became even more evident when the men’s winner Novak Djokovic made similar remarks which he then tried to back off from the next day.
Later in the week the struggle found an unexpected supporter…Raul Castro. Allegations of human rights abuses dominated the discussion this past Monday in Cuba between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. Castro said he did not think human rights issues should be politicized and also said human rights mean different things to different countries. He then chided the USA when he stated that women in Cuba receive equal pay for the same work as men. The difference in pay scale in the two countries is not related to the issue. Members of the US Congress who traveled to Cuba with President Obama said the Cuban government needs to do more on human rights. However, I have yet to see a quote from any of those congress people re: our need to end the Gender Gap. It reaffirmed what I have said in other blogs: we cannot expect politicians to resolve this issue.
It’s pretty embarrassing when a country like Cuba and all of its modern history and serious human rights issues is able to correctly state that they are more advanced than us, the greatest nation on earth when it comes to addressing and resolving the Gender Gap.
We had 11 CEO’s from the United States on the trip to Cuba with President Obama to help build entrepreneurship in Cuba. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb said “what we represent is diplomacy on a person-to-person level”. However, none of the 11 CEO’s made any mention of the Gender Gap despite the rebuke from President Castro. It makes one wonder if the person-to-person is man to man or really person-to-person. The people who can change the situation and end the Gender Gap are the CEO’s and it’s time for them to address this problem. We cannot wait for politicians.