200 Years to Gender Parity?

leadership gender gap

Last week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released it’s 2017 global gender gap report. For the first time in a decade, the gender gap across the world widened. Due to war, political and economic changes, the situation worsened for women in 60 countries, including the U.S. At the current rate, women are not likely to reach economic parity with men until 2234.

The WEF’s gender gap report focuses on the economic situation of men and women in 144 countries. It  assesses four areas including health and life expectancy; education; economic participation and opportunity; and political participation. It estimates that an additional $5.3 trillion could be added to the global GDP if economic gender equality was achieved across the world.

In last year’s report, the WEF predicted it would take 170 years for women to reach gender parity with men. The new prediction is it will take 217 years to close inequality between the sexes. Really? It’s hard to wrap our heads around this. This is equivalent to two full generations. Imagine your children’s children. This assumes that we keep on the current trajectory, which as we’ve seen this year, can reverse.

I’ve studied the reasons behind this gap in my dissertation and new book titled, “The Power of Perception: Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and the Gender Divide.”

I’m going to make a bold prediction. No one reading this blog (or my book) will be alive when we reach gender parity. To be perfectly candid, we may never reach true gender parity.

There are a multitude of barriers that women face at work and in society that men do not have to face. In addition, there are significant disconnects between what men and women see and experience at work. For example, women are 3 times more likely than men to say they have personally missed out on an assignment, promotion, or raise because of their gender.  Women also report that they are consulted less often on important decisions. 43% of women feel that they have fewer opportunities than men, compared to only 12% of men who feel that way.

There also appears to be a disconnect between CEOs and employees on the priority of gender diversity.  Three-quarters of companies report that gender diversity is a top CEO priority, but less than half of workers actually believe it.  Organizations need to demonstrate that gender diversity is a top priority, and commit to a comprehensive and sustained investment in programs and processes that change company practices and culture.

Despite the dismal outlook of the current stats, there is a truckload of data that shows that when more women participate in their communities, politics and organizations, entire countries can thrive. 200 years is too long to wait. Gender equality efforts now and in the future are well worth the effort. We need to rethink work, rethink leadership, and rethink gender.

To learn more, go to my website at drshawnandrews.com.