Only 23% of global executive roles are essayed by women

A report shows that gender gaps are widening as we move up the seniority ladder


International Women’s Day is around the corner, but surveys reveal that women still have a long way to go. Worldwide, women hold only 23 per cent of executive roles. It seems, the more senior the role, the wider is the gender gap, according to a Moody’s Analytics report.

Even the sectors where productivity is expected to be high, owing to the rapid digitisation of the economy, such as information technology, have fewer women in leadership roles than other service sectors. That means, women will end up being deprived of the compensation and income gains men enjoy in such rapidly-growing sectors.

As one moves up the seniority ladder, the gender gap only keeps widening. Can this gap be explained by labour force participation? Not really, says the report.

Other than a rare few countries, such as Chile, Turkey, Mexico and Costa Rica, the gender gap in labour force participation does not explain even half of the gender gap that prevails in management ranks. There is a wide gender gap in most countries when it comes to labour force participation.

So, can this gender gap in management be due to skills gap? Do young women spend less time studying and obtaining skills and degrees as compared to men? Do women lack the basic skills required to excel as managers?

The report says it is just the opposite. In most emerging markets and member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are way more women in the 25 to 64 age bracket, possessing a master’s degree, compared to men.

Clearly, women are more qualified than men for their jobs, and yet they remain under-represented in middle- and senior-management roles.

This could be because the returns on education for women are lower. That means, they are consistently underskilled in the workforce. Despite investing heavily on education, they end up with jobs that are paid low or lower-level positions that draw lower pay. They bag jobs below their skill level and not as per the standard of their educational achievements. They are underutilised, and more so than men, at all levels of education.

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