An issue which has been visited and revisited countless of times in the past. It has come to a stage where one can be ridiculed for the mere suggestion against WOMEN=MEN. But today, I will be brave—I'm putting my head on the chopping board—I'm saying it here now, that women does not "equal" men!
I'm OK with equal rights for women in terms of access to education, voting rights for elections to choose the governments etc, even to become leaders of nations. But in the job markets, women generally do not measure up to men—far from it.
Women demand to be treated equally as their male counterparts at the workplace. They want, if possible, to hold high positions (even higher than their male counterparts in some cases), earn equally high salaries etc as the men. Gender discrimination is in fact illegal in some countries!
The popular argument for equality is that if women can perform the same quality of work, at the same level of productivity, and bring in the same kind of revenues and hence profits etc for the company, why shouldn't they deserve the same rewards and benefits?
Generally speaking, women take more sick leave than men. Maybe that's because they are the weaker sex, I don't know. In many cases they are also restricted in what they can do. They are not so flexible in, say, going outstation for work. Some jobs may also require field inspections, which not all women can do for safety reasons.
A chance conversation with a friend about the current proposal to extend the (paid) maternity leave for women up to 90 days. As far as I know, this was only for the government sector, not the private sector. But apparently there are plans to influence the private companies to adopt the same benefits for their women employees. We all know that it is usually more expensive to hire temporary replacement staff while the permanent staff is on a long maternity leave.
I have been asked the question several times in the past, and my answer has always been the same. It is not really about gender discrimination, which I myself am against. It's about equality! Yes, equality! Since women demand for equality, that's exactly what they get!
At the end of the day, it boils down to productivity. If a woman and a man both have the same qualification and same experience for the job, the woman usually earns slightly lesser because she is apt to take more sick leave, has the added benefits of 90 days (paid) maternity leave, likelier to have terrible mood swings which would have an impact on her colleagues etc. It is in that sense that the woman is less productive for the company when compared to the man. Gender aside, companies are established to make profits. If a company can make RM1,000 profit per RM100 cost of a male employee, why would it spend RM150 for a female employee to make the same profit? Does that not amount to inequality?
And let me say it here—if it turns out that the man (as opposed to the woman) is the one who takes a (paid) leave for a period of 3 months for whatever reason, I would see to it that he earns lesser than the woman! That is the true meaning of equality.
Having said all those, however, I must admit that some women can perform very well in their jobs. In fact so well to the extent that even after allowing for the (possible) sick leave and maternity leave etc, they are still worth more than the men who hardly go on leave! In other words, these women are still more productive, having taken all the factors into account, and thus deserve higher salaries and positions than their male counterparts.