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  • Writer's picturePreeti Bonthron

Clarissa Valiquette: "Women are not equal to men, even 100+ years after getting the right to vote"

At the risk of stating the obvious, gender equity needs some serious attention – both at home and at work.

It has been almost 100 years since women were given equal rights to vote as men in the UK (1928) and 103 years in the US (1920), but still women are not equal to men in most areas.

So where do we currently stand in terms of equity?

Women are under-represented globally across the board, whether in government, science, technology, and business, to name just a few areas.

According to the UN, women’s share in National Parliaments is 26.2%, with gender equality not being reached for at least 130 years if progress continues at the current rate. 29.4% of the STEM workforce in the UK and an even smaller number of only 9% of STEM apprentices in the UK are female, even though girls outperform boys in STEM subjects at school.

Women tend to work in lower paying industries and jobs, are more likely to work part-time, on contract or freelance, and often take significant time out of their careers for child-rearing which sets them back even further. With all of this, women still shoulder the weight of 75% of all unpaid work, including childcare, housework and other caring responsibilities.

All of this adds up!

Men are disproportionally making decisions over laws and policies that affect women, such as reproductive rights and costs of hormonal treatments. Men are also disproportionally researching diseases and health issues, therefore choosing what is deemed important, often times at the expense of women.

DIAL Global’s own research saw a staggering one in four women saying they have depression or anxiety (24%), twice the number of men who say the same (12%).

Against such odds, women can never catch up.

As the gender pay gap starts early on and continues throughout a woman’s life, “women aged 55 to 64 are almost 20% less likely to have a private pension, and those who do have almost 40% less wealth held in them”.

Covid-19 has further exacerbated the gender gap. While there had been incremental movement much of this stalled during the 3 years of the pandemic.

Why does this matter?

McKinsey estimates that if the global gender gap was narrowed, both advanced and developing economies could increase GDP by 8% or $12 TRILLION a year. BUT, in a best-case scenario where women matched men’s participation in the workforce, including a 50/50 mix across every sector and across full-time employment, this could be 26% in GDP increase or $28 TRILLION a year.

As for businesses, McKinsey’s research consistently shows that organisations with female leaders fare better.

Their 2019 study found that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Companies in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity were 36 percent more likely to outperform on profitability. The highest-performing companies on both profitability and diversity had more women in line roles (that is, owning a line of business) than in staff roles on their executive teams.”

The benefits of gender equity are enormous, and not just when viewed through a social lens.

Simply knowing this is not enough. It is up to individuals and organisations to step up, take action and deliver on key initiatives to narrow the gender gap till men and women reach parity, if not equity on every level.

Clarissa Valiquette is the SVP of Customer Experience and Solutions at DIAL Global. Of German descent and raised across 3 continents, Clarissa spent a significant amount of time in Canada and travelled extensively before setting up home in London, UK where she resides with her husband, two children, two cats and a few goldfish. When not looking for ways to make the world a fairer place, she likes to put on her wellies and get outside.

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