Women: 1/2 the world, 2/3 the work hrs but only 10% of pay - Gender equality, when?

Posted on 07-24-2014 by
Tags: #WomensEqualityDay , career setbacks , woman lawyers , career advancement , Upgrading Your Skills


The below is a recent article is courtesy of BostInno.

Just this week I saw the following two articles that caused me to bang my head off my desk: Tech Leadership Lags Behind in Gender Diversity and Female [Law Firm] Associate Numbers Decline—Again. As a startup attorney, the representation of women in both the tech industry and in the practice of law are two things that I care about quite a bit. 

Quite frankly, I am a little bit weary and my head is a little bit sore from all the banging on my desk that is required (thank you GIFSoup) when I read the constant stream of articles about the painfully slow pace of progress (and in some cases, regress) of women in leadership roles generally.  Politics, law, startups, venture capital, financial services, etc. all show women stuck at in or around 17% representation.  In some cases, the situation looks bleaker.  

In November, the Boston Globe released its 2013 list of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts.  This Top 100 List was made up of the female-run, for-profit companies with the biggest revenue in Massachusetts. I was pleased to see people I knew, names I recognized, and even that three law firms run by women made the list.  However, when I compared this list to The Globe 100 List of the best Massachusetts businesses, only 4 of the companies on that list were run by women.It’s no wonder that a whole separate list had to be created…

This 4% representation is pretty consistent with the Fortune 500 list. Only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women according to the Catalyst study

According to Ashoka, women currently make up half of the world’s population, work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, but only earn 10% of the income and own less than 2% of the world’s property.

So we have the data, and the data is not good. But why? What is the reason for this gigantic disparity when women are getting more college degrees and masters degrees than their male counterparts. (see the data) Is it burnout? Limiting beliefs? Being judged for our clothes or shoes instead of the quality of our work? An unequal burden of household chores? Other forms of good old-fashioned gender discrimination? Does the under-representation of women on film also contribute because you can't be what you can't see? (Gina Davis tells us that only about 25% of movie speaking roles and 17% of group scenes contain women)

And quite frankly, does the "why" matter all that much? Should we just get to work on figuring out some solutions?  Because solutions to this problem are essential for good business. The data all shows that having women in leadership roles leads to better results. A report from McKinsey & Co. finds that companies with gender-balanced executive committees have a 56% higher operating profit than those with male-only executive committees. According to the Harvard Business Review, women entrepreneurs bring in 20% more revenue with 50% less money invested. A Dow Jones study Women at the Wheel: Do Female Executives Drive Start-up Success? found:

  • the overall median proportion of female executives in successful companies is 7.1%, compared to 3.1% at unsuccessful companies
  • a company’s odds of success increase with female executives at the VP and director levels
  • statistically significant evidence that there is a dependence between a company having female executives and its success
  • for start-ups with more female executives, there is a higher success-to-failure rate

So surely, we can all agree that this is a problem work fixing. Then what are the solutions? I certainly don’t have them, but I have a few suggestions. Men and women are in this together. Our households, our communities, and our business function better and have access to better ideas and more resources when men and women are treated equally. Let’s remember we are working towards the same goals. When you see bias or discrimination manifest itself in any form, call it out. If you run a business, create equal parental leave policies for both men and women, take a look at the makeup of your staff and your advisory board, examine your promotion and attrition trends. If you invest, make gender equity a consideration. At home, share household tasks equally. And do what you can to support, encourage, pull up, and carry up (if you must), the many smart, capable, and talented women who have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, a CEO, a managing partner, senator, president.  Of course, if you have other suggestions, I am all ears…

The above article is courtesy of the website BostInno.

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