The corporate gender gap has long been one of the biggest problems in the professional world. While gender equality has certainly come a long way over the course of even the past few decades, there is still a lot of work to be done. In America, for example, just 12 percent of corporate board chairs are filled by women. It’s not much better in other countries, either — 18 percent in France, which means America would have to increase its share by half in order to just meet what is already a relatively low percentage. In Japan, only 3.9 percent of board members are women, which just goes to show how much work needs to be done in certain parts of the world.
CNN Money posted a recent article discussing the role of women in the Japanese economy, and the findings are rather interesting. In the piece, Amy Rosen, CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, states that Japanese GDP would increase by a whopping 15 percent if men and women both held equal employment rates. In a country that houses some of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the world, this is a major boost that would make more than a small difference. Rosen points out that similar benefits would most likely be seen in America if such a shift were to happen, and there’s promise that it may happen sooner than later.
The gender gap in America
America is often referred to as the land of opportunity and equality, and there’s no getting around the fact that this country has taken great strides to ensure that its citizens feel good about where they live. As racism still exists in many ways, however, so too does sexism. Most employers will be quick to state that they would never discriminate against women in the hiring process or otherwise, but the numbers show that this simply isn’t the case.
Whether they mean to or not, many CEOs simply aren’t giving women the opportunities they deserve, regardless of their qualifications. It’s a story as old as the hills, and though positive changes have been made in recent years, there’s still a lot of ground left to cover. It’s one of the main reasons why so many women’s groups exist, as solidarity is one of the most important factors in breaking down barriers that make it difficult for women to succeed in the professional world.
Growing equality in entrepreneurship
It’s no secret that the gender gap still exists when it comes to employment rates in America, but there’s reason to believe that equality is increasing in entrepreneurship among men and women. Rosen also mentions how out of the 19,000 high school students who were part of her organization’s programs in 2013, 52 percent happened to be girls. This isn’t a program that students are forced to be a part of, either. Since entrepreneurship classes are electives, students actively choose whether or not they’d like to participate. What this means is that a growing number of young women are becoming interested in owning and operating businesses — great news for a country that has historically created a glass ceiling for women in the professional sector.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration, concerning what this might mean for business in both the near and distant future. If more and more women begin to open their own businesses, it will only be a matter of time before the corporate board-member gender gap starts to decrease.
It wouldn’t be out of line to predict that, in time, women could even outnumber men in regard to corporate board member spots. If and when this happens, continued gender imbalances on boards of directors will no doubt fade away. The end result will be more equality in business, a stronger GDP for America and a growing number of viable ideas that can be applied to products and services for export.