October 16, 2012
A number of countries across the globe have made strides toward improving gender inequality in the workplace, but a new study suggests that those policies could soon be put to the test. According to a press release, a report by the international consulting firm Booz & Co. suggests that some countries are not as prepared as they could be to take advantage of an upcoming influx of women in the workplace.
The study suggests that one billion women will enter the workplace globally over the next decade. The study calls these women the "third billion" since their numbers are as large as the one billion population in the countries of India and China. Yet, the study implies that these women may be overlooked in some countries, while other countries already have policies in place to better utilize the female workforce. Norway, for example, requires 40 percent of board members in publicly-traded companies to be females, reported CNBC.
"There is a view that countries that are able to tap into that talent pool are going to see higher growth," Penney Frohling, business strategist and partner at Booz and Co., told CNBC. "There is a very clear correlation between empowering women and GDP growth, literacy rates, infant mortality rates."
Australia, Norway and Sweden received the top three spots on the list, and the U.S. came in 30th. According a press release, U.S. women represent the majority of low-wage workers, gained fewer jobs in the post-recession economy and have limited access to senior-level positions. U.S. women are also facing crucial childcare issues: some women in low-waged positions are seeing 41 percent of their income go toward covering childcare.
"U.S. women are fighting a different battle than they were 20 years ago," DeAnne Aguirre, a senior partner at Booz & Co. said in the press release. "Women have gained momentum as participants in the workforce, but continue to confront challenges such as finding positions that pay as well as men's and climbing the corporate ladder beyond middle management."
The study's researchers noted that mentorships, grants for women-owned businesses and education can go a long way toward improving conditions for female workers. These in turn can benefit the entire workforce.
Compiled by Aimee Hosler
"Empowering the Third Billion: Utilizing Women As Key Drivers of Economic Growth," booz.com, October 15, 2012
"One Billion Women to Enter Workplace in Next Decade: Report," cnbc.com, October 15, 2012, Holly Ellyatt
"U.S. Women in the Workforce Confront a New Glass Ceiling, Finds Booz & Company Study," marketwatch.com, October 15, 2012