Why does the gender gap still exist?

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report has found that although more women are in employment than ever before, major corporations are still not capitalising on their talents. Pay equality is not there either. So why are women still not equally represented in major multinational companies and, when they are, why aren’t they being paid equally?

The report shows much progress still being made but a lot of ground still to make up.

Its co-author Ricardo Hausmann, Director of the Centre for International Development at Harvard University, says countries have to adjust for the fact that marriage and motherhood are not at odds with women’s advancement in the workplace.

He said: “We have found that gaps are closing between women and men’s health and education – in fact, current data show that in the 134 countries covered, 96% of health gaps and 93% of education gaps have been closed. And, yet only 60% of economic participation gaps have been closed. Progress will be achieved when countries seek to reap returns on the investment in health and education of girls and women by finding ways to make marriage and motherhood compatible with the economic participation of women.”

Fellow co-author Laura Tyson, S.K. and Angela Chan Professor of Global Management at the Hass School of Business, University of California at Berkeley, reflects: “The Global Gender Gap Report demonstrates that closing the gender gap provides a basis for a prosperous and competitive society.

“Regardless of level of income, countries can choose to integrate gender equality and other social inclusion goals into their growth agenda – and have the potential to grow faster – or they can run the risk of undermining their competitive potential by not capitalizing fully on one-half of their human resources. The economic incentive for closing the gender gap in health, education, economic opportunity and political power is clear.”

This article by Guy Dresser was first published on the World Economic Forum website on 31 October 2010.