Gender and Family Survey Reveals a Female-Friendly Industry, But There's Room for Improvement
Today CSA Research released the first in a series of reports that examine gender and family issues in the language industry. Based on our survey of 2,195 professionals who work with language services, this free report provides insights into the role gender and family plays in the field. We developed this pro bono research with the support of GALA and Women and Localization in order to understand how language workers compare to other industries. The report shines light on topics ranging from pay to personality to promotions. Most importantly, the data from this research separates perception from reality.
Data from CSA Research’s survey of CEOs of top language service providers has shown that LSPs with female CEOs outperform those with male leaders. This survey allows LSPs and buyers of translation to benchmark how they are doing with regard to gender and family issues in the workplace, a topic that can be vital when seeking to find and retain top-caliber talent. The results paint a picture of an industry that is doing better than average in terms of the opportunities it affords to women, but nevertheless has significant room for improvement. As translation becomes ever more important to the global economy, it will be increasingly urgent for organizations to address these issues and to find ways to promote women in leadership roles.
Some of the top-line findings detailed in Gender and Family in the Language Services include:
- Language work employs more women than men, but does not suffer a “women’s work” penalty. Seventy percent of respondents were women. Even if we allow for the likelihood that women are more likely to respond to a survey on gender, the picture still emerges of an industry that is predominately female. Work associated with women typically tends to be low-paying, but average wages for language professionals in North America and Europe exceed the average for skilled workers in other industries.
- Equal pay for equal work is the norm, but the glass ceiling depresses women’s earnings. When we adjust wage figures to reflect the differences in positions men and women hold, we find that women earn as much as – or even slightly more than – men do. However, women are much more likely to work in low-wage freelance and staff positions and men are more likely to be promoted to management roles. As a result, a significant average wage gap exists worldwide, with women earning 19% less than men overall.
- The glass ceiling is thinner in language services than for many other sectors. Most industries have small minorities of women in leadership positions. Although men are more likely to advance to these roles in the language industry than women are, the numbers are much more positive for women than seen in most other fields of work.
- Men and women have very similar career goals and aspirations. Contrary to research that suggests that women and men have different values, we find that their motivations are very similar, with enjoying work the top motivator by far. This suggests that people enter language services because they love working with language and find fulfilment in the industry.
- Businesses are supportive of most actions needed to care for family. We found that organizations are usually happy to provide flexible schedules, work from home, and even increase salaries to help employees meet family needs: all things that help them keep valuable skills in-house. However, when home life leads workers to reject promotions or leave employment, their employers are understandably less supportive.
- Most workers see gender issues as important… for someone else. Large majorities of male and female respondents believe that these issues are important in general, but only minorities believe they affect them personally, with women about 35% more likely to say they do.
Taken together, the results of the survey suggest that language services are ahead of the curve in terms of gender equality and opportunity, but significant room for improvement remains, particularly with regard to raising the glass ceiling that keeps women from advancing to leadership positions. Nevertheless, the language industry is ahead of most other sectors in this area.
The CSA Research Survey on Gender and Family in the Language Services Industry: Overall Findings is available free of charge from the CSA Research website. The findings are available under a Creative Commons Attribute 4.0 License that allows for reuse and creation of derivative works.
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