Around the world, groups persist in striving to address a lack of equality for women in the workplace. A significant element of women’s equality overall, gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 indicates that it will still take more than a lifetime to make equality a reality.
“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. That’s the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years,” says the Report.
Women & Emerging Roles
Looking to the future, the report reveals that the greatest challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles. For example, in cloud computing just 12% of professionals are women. Similarly, in engineering and Data and AI, the numbers are 15% and 26% respectively. So this of course means a pipeline issue will be imminent.
To address these deficiencies, workforce strategies must ensure that women are better equipped (in terms of improved skills or reskilling) to deal with the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Diverse hiring is another area for improvement (reflecting the current situation that sees gender parity in an in-demand skillset but not equal representation), along with creating inclusive work cultures.
Women & Equal Pay
Equal pay is also a further major issue around the world, still requiring considerable attention.
Equality isn’t just a number: it’s a socio-economic need. Women make up one half of the world’s talent. If they’re prevented from contributing on a public platform, economies won’t grow and thrive as they should. The report reveals that there is progress to celebrate – but also much still remains to be done.
A major problem revealed by the report is the decrease in women’s financial equality.
Gender equality is at 57.8% in the area of Economic Participation and Opportunity – alone, it would take 257 years of gender equality to be reached, a far higher number than that of education, and an increase of 55 years compared to the 2019 report.
According to the report, the reasons for this are:
- Women are not occupying jobs with higher salaries, such as the tech industry.
- Women’s jobs are being taken over by technology and mechanisation.
- Women are still suffering from lack of care infrastructure and access to capital – in 72 countries in the report, women cannot open bank accounts or acquire credit.
Companies can address this imbalance through the creation of inclusive workplaces; providing opportunities where women can learn skills that will secure them these roles; and take a diverse approach to the hiring process. It’s also important to provide more opportunities to inspire and encourage women in tech.
Women & Leadership
A key finding from this report is the importance of women in leadership to help close the gender gap.
Women in leadership act as role models to inspire other women to succeed. However, women leaders also have the power to make changes that will increase equality both in the workplace and in wider society.
Successful diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives can certainly help to create an inclusive workplace that is key to attract and retaining female workers.
Mindsets, and not only policies, are changing thankfully. A survey conducted by the National Centre for Social Research reveals that fewer people align themselves with traditional views of gender roles, where 72% of participants disagreed that women should stay at home, compared with 58% a decade ago.
Encouraging women in leadership, shining a spotlight on female role models, creating inclusive workplace cultures and changing mindsets, cultures, and policies – are all attainable ways to close the gender gap.