The FINANCIAL -- Throughout the 20th century, most of Europe has grown to accept and welcome women in the workplace. The attitude becomes little less feminist as you travel east, however. Areas like East Europe, the Caucuses, and Turkey still have more traditional values than their central and northern counterparts. Georgia presents somewhat unique opinions, though.
The Georgian member of Gallup International, Georgian Opinion Research Business International, conducted the last wave of the European Values Survey by surveying 1500 Georgians on issues related to family, work, society and more. The data collected reveal a Georgia that is very accepting of women in the workplace. While Georgians seem to be nearly as feminist as much of central Europe letting women work, they are still quite unequal in terms of other labor attitudes.
When asked whether both a husband and wife should contribute to the household income, virtually every Georgian agreed (96%). For comparison, only 87% of Germans agreed, and 75% of those living in both Luxembourg and Ireland. This greater desire for two earners may stem simply from the very low wages in Georgia, but when viewed together with some other relevant statistics we see at least some feminism in Georgian attitudes.
For example, when asked whether “having a job is the best way for a woman to be an independent person,” only one in ten Georgians disagreed. This is a similar proportion to most Europeans; 88% of Germans and Luxembourgers agreed with the statement (though only 67% of the Irish). The statement, “a working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work,” also met with general consensus; those that agreed constitute 87% of Georgia, 86% of Luxembourg, 79% of Germany, and 78% of Ireland.
When compared to their neighbors, such as Turkey, Georgia stands out as particularly accepting of economically participatory women. As with many aspects of modern Georgian culture, decades of Soviet membership have probably played some part. From the very beginning of the USSR, women were treated equally, at least in principle. Women were given suffrage, the ability to run for office, and equal pay for the same jobs. Women fought in World War II as partisans, snipers and pilots, while other allied nations generally relegated women to positions as nurses and administrators.
Furthermore, when the Georgians agree with the statement that a working woman can be an equally good mother, it helps to remember that Georgians have an approach to child rearing that runs along the lines of “it takes a village.” Because of their habit of living in large households with many family members, and the great priority given to family community, a child is not simply raised by its mother and father, but by everyone. This may alleviate the problem of a mother’s time lost to her job in the minds of Georgians.
We cannot ignore the still existent blemishes on Georgia’s feminist face. A quick glance around any major organization or governmental body will show you that there is a definite “glass ceiling” that still pervades Georgian society. It’s true that most every time you enter a small shop or grocery store, there are young women behind the counters, stocking shelves and mopping floors. Most offices have female employees; a majority of GORBI’s project management, analysis, and report writing is done by very talented women. The picture is not the same, though, in most corner offices, board rooms, or parliament (Parliament is currently composed of 94% men).
Georgia also falls behind much of Europe in the desire for gender priority. Georgians were much more likely than the average to say that, “when jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women.” A full 40% of Georgians agreed with the statement, while only 16% of Irish, 12% of Luxembourgers, and 15% of Germans did. In fact, the only countries who had even close to Georgia’s male preference are Turkey, Armenia, and Moldova.
Georgians can be proud that their society supports women workers, but will have to delay real back-patting until the general opinion of gender equality matches the reality.
Ratio of Female to Male Labor Participation
There were 1500 Georgians included in this poll, and more than 50,000 other Europeans. Polls of this sort have a 3.5% margin of error with a 95% confidence interval. Visit our website at gorbi.com.