There is much debate about equal pay. How can I make sure I’m not discriminated against in the work place?
As a young professional woman I was typically not strategic about my rights in the workplace. Employees nowadays are more vigilant, with companies being more regulated too about women being paid the same as a man for the same work. In Islam the emphasis is not on equality but justice; however, as justice needs interpretation whereas equality is calculated, this could prove complicated in the office setting. In theory, justice and equality are the same, but not in practice. The limitations on women due to their reproductive and maternal roles have long been at the heart of inequality. Women are often disadvantaged or marginalised after maternity leave. But companies are increasingly scrutinised for this, and while there is still a long way to go – particularly at senior and board levels where men significantly out-earn and out-represent women – the balance is slowly redressing. As women are now expected to be bread winners, equal pay is a must. One problem is the confidentiality surrounding salaries, as women don’t even know if they are underpaid. Oftentimes it comes down to negotiation skills at the outset of an employment contract. Research is essential, so make sure you know what is standard pay for your type of work. And choose a company known for good practice.
Draw attention to your achievements at performance assessment time, and claim credit for your contributions. Highlight the behaviours that women excel at: multi-tasking, managerial finesse, diplomacy... Be a goal-setter, and make sure that confidence is one of the accessories you wear to work every day. You will then, hopefully, be treated as an equal in every respect.
I am often confused about the differences between craft and design. How do you set them apart?
Many people wonder about the difference between art, design and craft, and the short answer is that there isn’t always a clear-cut difference. We often see these areas blurred, and to add to the complication, over the past few years the fashion industry has come into the fray and increasingly incorporates art and design. Today on any given catwalk, you are likely to see ‘wearable art’ or a piece of ingenious design.
There are of course a few stand-out elements in each of these disciplines. For example, craft has historically been linked with ‘handicrafts’ so there is the hand of the maker and human input. It is something people have done for hundreds of years. Potters and ceramicists, weavers, carvers, glassblowers, and so on, all conjure up the image of a painstakingly-produced item, which often reflects the personality of the maker. Design on the other hand adheres to certain aesthetic principles and is something that has only really emerged since the beginning of the 20th century. It is an ‘applied’ art form, meaning that it implies separation from the manufacturing process. Products have to be designed before they move to the production line. There are all kinds of design categories: furniture, landscape, industrial, graphic, interior and so on. A design product is
often serially produced while a piece of craft, produced by a master craftsman, is a one-off. That said, the glorious Meiji vases produced in nineteenth century Japan were almost mass-produced for industrial fairs in France. The winner of the 2016 PAD Design Fair can only be described as a craftsman creating extraordinary works out of sea shells. The boundaries are regularly blurred! For that reason I find it simplest not to dwell too much on the distinctions and just enjoy the results!