Closing the Gender Gap for Women Could Help Economies Out of Crisis. Here’s How
The current recession, unlike past economic slumps that have tended to be worse for men, is disproportionately bad for women.
It comes after a period where the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple shocks in the global economy have hindered progress on closing the gender gap. Women’s jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable than those of men throughout the pandemic and are suffering more disruption in the subsequent economic fallout.
This year’s Global Gender Gap Report finds the global gender gap has closed by 68.1%, meaning that as the global economy enters its third year of disruption, it will take another 132 years to reach gender parity. It’s a slight improvement on the 136 years in 2021 but remains significantly higher than the 100 years recorded prior to 2020.
In other words, gender parity has been set back by an entire future generation and women today are bearing the brunt of the current economic downturn.
Why is this economic slump worse for women?
In 2022, gender parity in the labour force stands at 62.9%, the lowest level registered since the index was first compiled.
Inequities in the labour force have been significantly exacerbated during the pandemic, which increased the burden of care work on women and shuttered many sectors that had high levels of female employment – like travel and tourism or retail. At the same time, some of the sectors under greatest duress are those that employ large numbers of women – healthcare, education and other essential work.
When examining female representation in leadership positions, the Gender Gap Report finds that only 19% and 16% of leadership roles in manufacturing and infrastructure respectively are occupied by women. However, in sectors like non-governmental organizations and education, women hold over 40% of leadership roles. While there has been progress, among Fortune 500 companies, only 8.8% of the CEOs are women.
The burden of care and the growing weight of the cost-of-living crisis is falling disproportionately on women. The economic stress placed on women also contributes to increased levels of mental and physical stress, creating a vicious cycle of further personal and professional challenges.