Women in Power, Power in Women


Women in Power, Power in Women

By Malcolm Duff

Business 2 Community - September 17, 2012

According to the latest statistics (2009) from the OECD, while female employment rates have expanded considerably and the gender gaps in employment and wages have narrowed virtually everywhere, women still have 20% less chance of having a job than men. What is the gender gap in the language industry?

To find out, first we surveyed the staff lists of 172 interpreter’s and translator’s associations in 78 countries: 82.43% of the members of their executive committees are women.

We then analysed the membership database of the Inttranet network of freelance interpreters and translators with members in 54 countries: 64.27% of them are women.

We then consulted the 92 companies with ISO 9001 or equivalent certification that are Kontax Translation Managers, with offices in a total of 165 countries: 62.67% of their interpreters and translators are women.

Finally, we analysed the staff lists of 27 translation faculties in universities in 12 countries: 72.22% of them are women.

These figures can be contrasted with those for Canada, the only country we have found which provides gender-based statistics for the language industry: women represented 65.9% of all translators (2005 figures). Women translators work more on a part-time basis, however, 5 percentage points lower than the ratio of male full-time workers (40.8% versus 45.8%).

Figures are all very well, but if we also consider individual instances, at the corporate level, such as TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business solutions, the co-CEO is Liz Elting. At the institutional level, for example the International Federation of Translators, the president is Marion Boers. And at the academic level, including the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), the President is Juliane House.

If language is the defining characteristic of what makes us human, and therefore the source of the differences between people, dialogue – translation – is the only means of overcoming them. In the language industry at least, it would seem women have the power to do that.

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