16 March 2021

Gender parity in 2021 – Women’s Empowerment: How far are we from closing the gap?

The beginning of March traditionally marks the observance of the International Women’s Day, yet gender parity in 2021 is a dream still far away.

The beginning of March traditionally marks the observance of the International Women’s Day, yet gender parity in 2021 is a dream still far away.

If you think that talking about women and gender parity in 2021 is outdated, you will change your mind by the end of this article as according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 women will reach equality just in one hundred years. The scenario of women’s empowerment becomes even more dramatic if we think that this prediction only regards women in politics and we consider other branches of the labour market. As far as concerns economic participation and opportunity, for example, women’s parity sinks to 57.8%, which means that women will have to wait 257 years to reach equality.  

Women & Work: the glass ceiling

The global gap in economic participation and opportunity is mainly due to the extremely low presence of women in the labour market if compared to men. Just think that while 78% of adult men are in the labour force, the figure drops to 55% when it comes to women. If we narrow our search analysing seniority levels only, data is even less optimistic. As a matter of fact, 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.

Let us now focus on two industries we all know well: IT and Pharmaceuticals. In IT, the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 states that globally in the areas of cloud computing, engineering & data and AI, women are respectively 12%, 15% and 26% of the workforce. On top of this, if we move to Italy, the country where Trueblue’s headquarters are, women only hold 20% of leadership roles in major IT companies. In the Pharma industry the situation does not seem to be much different, as according to data from the World Health Organization 7 out of 10 healthcare workers are women, but less than 3 out of 10 of these hold a leadership position.

The Coronavirus has made the situation even worse, as the pandemic’s toll on employment is heavier for women. Just think that in the U.S.A., last December women accounted for more than 110% of job losts, as women lost 156,000 jobs out of the overall 140,000 job losses of the U.S. economy.

A Financial Gap

If we move on to another hot topic, the economical one, we are again confirmed that Gender parity in 2021 is a distant chimera, as financial disparities are persistently increasing.

As a matter of fact, the Report states that over 40% of the wage gap and over 50% of the income gap are still to be bridged. This means not only that women in similar positions as men (for seniority and skill levels) are still paid less, but also that income disparities are larger than wage gaps.

A Cultural Matter

It is understood that this is a consequence of what we have just wrote above, i.e. of women’s under-representation in leadership roles and in emerging, high-reward segments of the economy such as IT.

There are other reasons for financial disparities, however. For example, women are 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 do not have the right to open a bank account.

In addition, as incredible as it may seem, even in the most virtuous countries women carry a much higher amount of household and care responsibilities compared to men. Let’s put it in other words: In no place in the world men spend the same amount of time of women in domestic work. And – of course – we are talking about unpaid work.

The Silver Lining

Yet there are exceptions, such as Özlem Türeci, co-founder of BionTech, or Silvia Candiani, CEO of Microsoft Italy, just to name a few. Other amazing women are listed in the Healthcare Technology Report, which presented a rank of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Biotechnology of 2020.

This list should make us reflect on the fact that economic growth and business competitiveness worldwide strictly depend on the development and deployment of women, which – it is worth remembering – are one-half of the world’s available talent.

And of course when we talk about women & talents we are are not only talking about women that have climbed the ladder of success, but also and especially about those that every day are around us and work, study, manage their households, have fun and fight disparity every day.

Trueblue, always focused on innovation in many aspects of the labour market, proves to be a pioneer also in this context as employment has grown by about 15% in 2020 and half of Trueblue’s employees are women.

Elisa Botton | BDR CRM & Lead Management

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