Goldman Sachs Research published their first paper on Women Hold up Half the Sky in 2008. At the time, they regarded the old Chinese proverb as more aspiration than fact, given the gender gaps they found in education, health, work and wages in both developed and developing countries alike.
Fast forward 15 years – because gender equity has become especially important in this era of aging demographics, our Research colleagues decided to take a fresh look at these issues.
In most countries today, the working age population is shrinking and even for the few countries where it is not shrinking yet, growth rates are declining. In the US, working age population growth has been slowing for decades and is expected to continue its decline until we hit negative growth around mid-century.
At the same time, geopolitical risks and public policy (including the recent Inflation Reduction Act) are increasingly pushing our companies to reshore and bring production home. This means it’s now more important than ever to utilize the full resources women have to offer.
Are we doing that? Since Research’s original report, more women have entered the workforce and their pay had edged closer to that of men. However, progress has been slow and there is still some way to go to close the gaps.
According to our Research colleagues, even just halving the pay and employment gap between men and women could raise the level of GDP (gross domestic product) across developed and developing nations by 5-6%.
There has been plenty of global progress for women over the past 15 years – especially in education and labor force participation – but there are still persistent gaps.
Each economy around the world has its own distinctive cultural backdrop and set of needs. But once governments have done their part to ensure equal rights between men and women (such as outlawing discrimination and granting the right to divorce and access to credit), the rest of the job of closing the gender gap is likely in the hands of policymakers, corporations and investors. Our colleagues in Research noted several areas of focus that could bring improvements:
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