For years – there has been continued attention paid to the gaps between men and women. There have been countless studies on the topic, but none have painted as stark a picture as the latest report from the World Economic Forum. The organization says:
“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.”
What’s sobering about that statistic is the possible reality that most adults living now will not see a time when men and women are completely equal. Having said that, it’s better than the previous year’s prediction of 108 years.
What is it?
Gender parity can sometimes be confused with gender equality. Gender parity is not the same thing, but it can lead to gender equality.
The best definition used to understand gender parity comes from New America contributor Haley Swenson. She says:
“Gender parity is a statistical measure that compares a particular indicator among women, like average income, to the same indicator among men.”
Why is Gender Parity Important?
Based on that definition, one can look at gender parity through any lens as long as it is along the basis of gender. Measuring parity based on gender allows for researchers to track changes over time and is a good indicator of whether or not there has been progress in any given area.
Additionally, understanding gender parity impacts the economic situations of society. The World Economic Forum says “developing and deploying one-half of the world’s available talent” impacts several areas. Those include:
- Future economic and business readiness
The Global Gender Gap Index
In their report, the WEF published its most recent Global Gender Gap Index. First published in 2006, the report looks at major and emerging economies. The index itself is designed to measure gender equality.
The top 10 countries this year include:
- New Zealand
A couple of points can be gleamed from this list. For 11 years in a row, Iceland has been the number 1 country on the list. It’s followed by the remaining Scandinavian countries with the exception of Demark. New Zealand is the only APAC country in the top 10. The United States did not make the list.
The report also says of the 149 countries indexed, more than 100 of them improved over the previous year’s scores. The most improved include Albania, Ethiopia, Mali, Mexico and Spain.
Challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution
So, what is keeping the gender gap from closing? According to the WEF report, it’s the fact women are under-represented in emerging roles.
Among some of the roles noted, the report gives the example of cloud computing. Only 12 percent of professionals in that space are women. In engineering and data, only 15 percent of professionals are women. And in artificial intelligence, only 26 percent of professionals are women.
The report goes on to say:
“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, along with creating inclusive work cultures.”
This news brings to light a very significant point: HR and their respective companies must take the reins when it comes to diversity and inclusivity initiatives. Companies should continue to look at ways they can impact gender parity issues within their organizations be it in pay, leadership or workforce make-up just to name a few. Making these changes can help put the company on a positive track and can continue to moving the world closer to a more gender equal society.
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