Gender Parity

Gender Parity: How far are we from closing the gap?

Even though it is the year 2021, the dream of closing this gap is still far away. None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. That is the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years.

Gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether economies and societies thrive. Developing and deploying one-half of the world’s available talent has a huge bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.

According to a recent article written by Elisa Botton of Trueblue, the global gap in economic participation and opportunity is mainly due to the extremely low presence of women in the labor market if compared to men. Whilst 78% of adult men are in the labor force, only 55% are women. Analyzing seniority levels only, data is even less optimistic, as globally, only 18.2% of firms are led by a woman and on average, only 22.3% of board members in OECD countries are women.

The Coronavirus has made the situation even worse, as the pandemic’s toll on employment is heavier for women.  In the U.S.A, last December, women accounted for more than 110% of those who lost their jobs. The coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 25 years of increasing gender equality, new global data from UN Women suggests. Women are doing significantly more domestic chores and family care, because of the impact of the pandemic.  The care burden poses a “real risk of reverting to 1950s gender stereotypes”, Ms. Bhatia says.

Julia Gillard, former Australian premier who chairs the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, commented: “It’s been said that we’re at a coronavirus crossroads: we face a choice between building back better or allowing progress on gender equality to stall or even be reversed. “If we’re to have any chance of ensuring women don’t lose out further because of the crisis, we need to keep this issue high on the agenda.”

In the United States and around the world, women continue to be underrepresented in high-level, highly paid positions and overrepresented in low-paying jobs. Women of color and transgender individuals experience particularly high levels of poverty, unemployment, and other economic hardships. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace contribute significantly to these persistent economic divides.

According to a recent article posted in Loop Cayman, there is significant work to be done to achieve gender equality in the Cayman Islands. A key takeaway from Gender Equality Cayman’s 2019 survey is that there is a real divergence in the experiences of men and women in the workplace. 73% of women think women encounter barriers in career progression, whereas 45% of men held the same belief.

It was also noted that, in the legal industry, an equal number of male and female graduates begin as associates, whereas – at a senior level – only a fifth of partners are female. Overall, the 2019 survey showed that less than half of the respondents believed their current company had attained the status of an equal opportunity employer.

Globally, women are also less likely than men to gain money from non-employment activities such as financial investments. On top of this, in many countries, women are simply hindered from opening a business as they nearly do not have access to capital, or they do not have the right to open a bank account.

It’s not all bad however, there are many incredible women who are leaders, as women today are unstoppable, and their power and influence is rising.  Increasingly women demand a new society, one that gives them choices – they can choose to do anything, be anything and they are building the systems that enable them to do that.

As the BBC has said, there are positives to take out of the side-effects of pandemic. Home working can be made to work for women who are juggling careers with family responsibilities. If working from home is becoming the norm, and a more flexible routine is likely to last, then women have a better chance of mixing family life with work and career progression. There is a positive for fathers too, at least those who have the traditional role as primary household earner. Where their jobs demand long hours, and previously meant absence in the office or while travelling for work, they have more chance of being active parents and seeing their children grow up – into a fairer jobs market, perhaps?

A women’s achievements are not measured only by those who have climbed the ladder of success, but also those that every day are around us, working, studying, managing their households, taking care of their kids and fighting disparity every day. A woman does not need a business title to be a leader – a true leader shows up in their community to make an impact, to make a difference.  Women around the world do that every day, regardless of their job title or position.