When it comes to difficult conversations, there is no bigger topic than the challenge of achieving gender equity. In the Gender Gap 2020 Report from the World Economic Forum, women have representation in 25% of available positions. In terms of economic participation, the gender gap will take 257 years to close (which is worse than the 2019 report which was 220 years). Gender parity will not be achieved in North America for 151 years.
Identifying key root causes of gender inequity
When it comes to achieving global gender parity, the numbers have regressed. It will take 257 years before gender parity can be achieved. The three main drivers are: women have more representation in roles that are being automated, not enough women are entering professions where wage growth is the most pronounced (like technology), and women face the ongoing challenge of care infrastructure and access to capital.
Join with me and accelerate closing the gender equity gap
For the month of March, I want to elevate the conversation by doing a matching campaign of $3100 to the Business Women’s Giving Circle. Each day in March I will promote awareness about the gender parity gap and highlight women across all industries who have and are breaking down barriers and providing solutions. One of the top reasons mentioned in the Gender Gap 2020 Report was not enough women in roles where there is significant wage growth. STEM is one of the fields I believe in and is why I joined the BWGC.
Expanding opportunities at every age
The Business Women’s Giving Circle, a philanthropic group of women, funds grants to nonprofits in the northern Virginia area that serve girls and young women in STEM. The recipients of these grants focus on teaching skills such as resiliency, learning to fail and trying again, and gaining access and exposure to technology at an early age to increase their confidence in pursuing technology-related careers. To date they have granted $400,000 to over a dozen organizations, helping over 3,000 girls and young women.
Creating access to the informal networks
Another key factor, although not mentioned in the gender parity report is access and exposure to senior, informal networks. A critical informal networking opportunity is on the golf course. There are amazing organizations, such as Women on Course, a national organization led by Donna Hoffman and Tina Fox, focused on getting women on the golf course and helping them expand their business network and build confidence in what has traditionally been a man’s world. In a Forbes article, 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf and 80% say playing golf enables them to establish new business relationships. Not only does golf build confidence it provides women more informal networking opportunities, which they tend to be excluded from. In a Catalyst study, 46% of women surveyed named “exclusion from informal networks” as the main factor holding them back in their career, with golf being the leading informal network from which women felt excluded.
There are other factors that certainly contribute to gender equity, such as companies ensuring the work environment helps retain women, whether they choose to pursue a family or not, and that mentors and sponsors are provided to help pull women up into senior-level positions. Telepathy is not a strategy. When it comes to discussing gender equity, we must share our challenges, hopes, and wins to continue to create momentum and drive change.
Be a Noisebreaker,