What Will it Really Take to Close the Gender Gap?

gender-gapNew research, released Tuesday, indicates that it could take upwards of 83 years to close the gender gap in the United States—and that is on all fronts:  health, politics, education, and economics.

The report was published in the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, from World Economic Forum.  The survey looked at the current gender gap between women and men in four categories—economic participation and opportunity, education, health, and politics—across 144 countries.

When observing only these four categories, the agency found the difference is staggering.  In fact, the difference is so significant they were able to distill it down to a single number:   the study suggests that women are nearly 32 percent worse off than men.

To put it another way, men are 68 percent better off than women.  More importantly, perhaps, the study also suggests that it could take as many as 83 years to completely overcome the gap, at the current pace.

Of course, that means there is great potential to significantly improve the numbers in a shorter amount of time. But that means we would have to improve the pace of growth and statistics tell us that is not likely.  Indeed, progress has been slow on the take since the creation of the Index, in 2006, despite the fact there have been some major improvements in both education and health.

Another way to look at it, though, is to observe that this level of gender equality—at least, within the economic spectrum—has reverted to the same level it had been in 2-2008. This was a time when women only had about 41 percent of the same economic participation and opportunity as their male counterparts.  At the same time, though, women appears to do 50 more minutes of work than men, on the average work day.

As such, World Economic Forum head of employment and gender initiatives Saadia Zahidi shared, “Consistently, in the last three years, the rate of change is slowing down, and that’s starting to show up in economic gender parity numbers.”

In addition, the report itself actually makes note that although many countries do possess the potential to take better advantage of the talents and skills that their female citizens have to offer, these attributes are “either squandered through lack of progression or untapped from the onset.”

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