The past 12 months have seen women take the lead in some of the toughest economic and political environments: Christine Lagarde became the first female to head the International Monetary Fund, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has emerged as the key figure in solving the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and Maria das Gracas Foster has taken over at Petrobras, becoming the first woman to run one of the world’s top five oil companies. Women also head governments in countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Thailand.
However, the GrantThorton International Business Report 2012 survey shows that just 21% of senior management roles are held by women globally, figure which has barely moved over the past decade. Moreover, just 9% of businesses have a female CEO. This short report explores why this issue matters, the current state of play and what is being done about it.
Women are nominated for research prizes just as frequently as men, however unconscious bias and men running prize panels seems to be swaying award outcomes, suggests the study in the current Social Studies of Science journal.
Varying widely by discipline, women receiveabout 40% of all doctoratesin science (around 70% of psychology degrees but less in other fields) and engineering (about 10%), and have long suffered from lower odds of becoming full professors or attaining other markers of prestige in those fields.
"A large body of social science research finds that work done by women is perceived as less important or valuable that that done by men," begins the study led by sociologist Anne Lincoln of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In their research, the study authors looked at award patterns from 13 scientific and medical societies from 1991 (206 awards) to 2010 (296 awards).
Women are bringing a much needed source of emotional intelligence to the top table and as a result improving a board's ability to innovate, make consensual decisions and connect with customers and staff. This is according to a survey by Inspire, the business network for senior board level women supported by Harvey Nash.
The survey, completed by 326 board-level executives across 19 countries and part of Inspire's Return on Diversity report, revealed that almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) believe women are bringing a greater level of emotional intelligence (EI) to the board which in turn brings greater cultural understanding (91% believed better EI boosted the board's ability in this area), better board consensus (80%) and greater creativity and innovation (75%).
For Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, it has been a somewhat strange dynamic. They are not in the minority among politicians in their home state, but they are at the national level, and as such, have been called on to speak up for women. Recently, the two grabbed the spotlight during the debate over contraception.
Nationwide, women’s groups point out the glaring gender disparity in public life, noting that there are only 6 female governors and 17 female senators. Across the country, women make up 23.6 percent of state legislatures, according to Off the Sidelines, a project started last year by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York. But in Washington State, women’s serving in public office has been as consistent as the rain.
“Every once in a while a note or a letter will mention it,” Ms. Gregoire said. “But mostly, it’s taken for granted.”
Courtney Gregoire, her daughter, would relay differences between Washington State and Washington, D.C., where she worked as the director of the National Export Initiative at the Commerce Department. She found herself biting her tongue when men mentioned her age (she is 32), and she started wearing pantsuits to appear older. Once, after being the lone woman in a meeting of 25, she called her mother.
The governor replied, “Welcome to how it was for us.”
About one in three young Arab women between the ages of 23 and 29 participate in their country's labor force versus about eight in 10 young Arab men. This gender gap is generally consistent across the 22 Arab countries and territories Gallup surveyed in 2011, but young women's labor force participation is slightly higher in low-income countries than in higher income countries.
These findings are based on a new Silatech Index report, "Workforce Participation Linked to Wellbeing Differences Among Young Arab Women," which examines how young women's workforce participation is related to their life evaluations, emotional state, and economic optimism.
In many Arab countries, chronic job shortages combined with cultural factors, such as pressure on employers to give young men jobs that enable them to marry and start families, may limit employment opportunities for young women. The World Bank recently reported that the Middle East and North Africa region continues to have the lowest female workforce participation rate of any global region.
These broad gender gaps persist despite impressive strides in many Arab countries toward gender equity in education. In high-income countries, women aged 23 to 29 are just as highly educated as their male counterparts and are more likely than young men to have a tertiary education (22% vs. 16%, respectively). In middle-income and low-income countries, young women are less likely than young men to have more than a primary education.
The report by New York-based GMI Ratings, a corporate governance consulting firm, is based on an analysis of salaries of more than 1,900 CFOs at Russell 3000 Index (RAY) companies with a market value of $100 million to $25 billion in 2010. About 150 of the CFOs were women.
“There is real discrimination, but nobody wants to deal with it," said Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of Value alliance Co. Female CFOs received on average $1.32 million a year in total compensation, compared with $1.54 million for their male counterparts, according to a model based on the analysis. Compensation included base salary, bonuses, grant-date value of stock awards and stock option grants and retirement benefits.
The firm said its model accurately predicted a CFO’s gender. The lower the salary, the more likely the CFO would be female.
Imagine what it is like to be serving your country and less than a quarter of your constituents look like you. That is the reality for African-American women in politics.
Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) was the youngest African-American woman to be appointed to the Illinois Senate and she said sexism was evident, but being intimidated by others has disappeared.
“There has always been some general disrespect and resistance to treating me as an equal. I overcame most of this, but it has been a process of working hard to gain respect.” Ligthford said. “In focusing on my mission to improve education, I have felt some negative feedback, but I don’t see it as negative anymore. I see it as my job and I have grown in that way.”
Women only make up 17 percent of all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 16 percent of U.S. senators, 16 percent of all governors and 24 percent of state legislators according to a 2008 Pew Research study.
Even with this reality, in 2012 nearly three quarters of African-American women say right now is a good time to be a black woman in America, according to a 2012 nationwide study from the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation.