Netflix’s squid game about empowering women

Squid Game on Netflix leaves the company with many questions. It challenges our thinking about women’s empowerment, gender representation and how we perceive women in society.

“We already have an elderly man and a female, therefore the others must all be male.
“What if they made us play Elastics or Gonggi?” The women are better there.
“It’s true, but in terms of odds, men are better at most games.”

The above set of dialogues features one of the most biting sequences of Squid game – the most watched Netflix show to date.

Simple games juxtaposed with the miseries of debilitating debt have struck a chord around the world, including in India.

Although South Korea is an OECD country with a much higher per capita income and cost of living than India, many commonalities could be drawn including the misery of poverty, envy and the appreciation of the students of the best universities, the love for mothers and the complex human nature.

How women are viewed in society

But what was most intriguing was the perception of women’s abilities. In Episode 4, players wonder what the criteria for selecting their team members should be. The smart guy Sang-Woo (Seoul National University alumnus) asks teammates to bring back men to complete the squad.

Most working women have encountered many Sang Woos in their life. (Representative image)

When the nice guy Gi-hun wonders if this is a game that doesn’t require strength, the smart guy says that “in most cases (whatever the game) men play better than women” .

It is strange that despite the economic, societal and cultural differences, the perception of women is similar across the world. As in team sport in Squid Game, women are less likely to be selected even in cases where no one knows if it was a game of strength, wisdom or otherwise.

It is often said that education and economic development can change the cultural perceptions and social status of everyone, including women.

However, a character like Sang Woo, highly educated in a high-income country, who only succeeded in the previous game based on her wit and information shared by a woman, thinks women should be less likely to being selected for an unknown game puts things in perspective.

Even in economically fair situations, educated (or uneducated) men do not consider women worthy of, say, equal status and worth.

Most working women have encountered many Sang Woos in their life. These men are well-behaved individuals, well versed in their profession, ready to share their wisdom for the common good, attentive to what they speak and the way they communicate. Yet they are not able to shake off their internal prejudices against women.

Socialization imposing stereotypes has entrenched gender biases so deeply that a man is less likely to select women as team members than men if given the choice. In most cases, women only fill symbolic seats to indicate that the men on the team are not averse to working with women.

This preference of working with men over women gives men fewer opportunities to experience women at work, especially with several women working as a team, which could change their perception.

In addition, the symbolic female member of the team constantly feels compelled to prove that she deserves this (symbolic) space. As a result, it is often under-recognized and, most of the time, overworked. Moreover, she often attains this symbolic position after competing with equally competent women, who may have been cut off because there was only one symbolic space.

The problem is that no economic inequality can lead to socio-political change without specific intervention.

How society reinforces gender bias

While capitalism, like other dreams, has adequately publicized gender equity as one of its advantages, big private brands are using gender to sell products, maintain their brand image. and create a buzz. But they fail to create an inclusive workspace with equal opportunities.

There is a lot of data to support this claim. Women’s labor force participation is barely 24%, indicating a clear decline over the past two decades as privatization has increased. In urban areas, considered as engines of growth, the participation rate of women is modest, 14 to 11% lower than the total average.


The 2017-2018 Economic Survey published by the Indian government admits that economic development does not lead to participation in the labor market. Despite an era of disruptive automation, artificial intelligence, cyber analysis and the personalization of technology for all shapes and sizes, gender bias remains a significant societal barrier.

The effect of such a gender bias reinforces the same. For example, India has a thriving automotive industry that aims to create smart green cars, but India does not have a car with height adjustment functions built into the driver’s seat, which is suitable for women. medium and small. Nor are world-made motorcycles that are ergonomically tailored for women.

Many will wonder why should someone do this? But then, why not? Likewise, safe conception for driving while pregnant is never a selling point. So therefore, between men and women, men remain the most apt to drive a vehicle designed for them and, therefore, a better candidate to drive the vehicle.

Such exclusive standards at all stages lead to a lack of representation of women in the workforce, right down to the teams that make decisions, design policies and lead the organization.

So, it is safe to say that the gender issue will not go away on its own, even in an economically fair space. To create a gender inclusive society, we need to develop gender sensitive policies, training modules, audits, controls, etc., a gender inclusive education system.

In the show Squid Game, in tug of war, the team wins when it applies strategy to force and uses its human resources well. The hope is that the audience will follow this lesson and create opportunities to make adequate use of the knowledge, skills and skills of the so-called other / secondary gender.

Mara R. Wilmoth