World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report showed equality 99+ years away

 January 20, 2020

Around the world, groups persist in striving to address a lack of equality for women in the workplace. A significant element of women's equality overall, gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 indicated that it would still take more than a lifetime to make equality a reality.

"None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. That’s the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years,” said the Report.


Looking to the future, the report reveals that the greatest challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles. For example, in cloud computing just 12% of professionals are women. Similarly, in engineering and Data and AI, the numbers are 15% and 26% respectively. So this of courser means a pipeline issue will be imminent.

To address these deficiencies, workforce strategies must ensure that women are better equipped (in terms of improved skills or reskilling) to deal with the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Diverse hiring is another area for improvement (reflecting the current situation that sees gender parity in an in-demand skillset but not equal representation), along with creating inclusive work cultures.

Equal pay is also a further major issue around the world, still requiring considerable attention.

Gender gap

Measuring the progress of 153 countries

The Global Gender Gap Report measures the progress of 153 countries towards gender equality using four markers: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment.

women gender

According to the report, a quarter of the countries in the survey have achieved gender equality, with the top positions occupied by Northern European countries – Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden respectively. However, the lowest-ranked 10 countries have closed only 40% of the gender gap.

Countries that have improved the most are Spain, Mali, Mexico, Albania and Ethiopia, with Western Europe overall making the most progress.

gender gap countries

Equality as a socio-economic need

The importance of this statistic comes with the knowledge of the importance of gender equality. Equality isn’t just a number: it’s a socio-economic need. Women make up one half of the world’s talent. If they’re prevented from contributing on a public platform, economies won’t grow and thrive as they should.

The report reveals that there is progress to celebrate – but also much still remains to be done.

Progress in education, politics and health

The report offers some positive statistics, with improvements in the areas of Educational Attainment, Political Empowerment, and Health and Survival.

There has been an increase in female representation in politics – even though it will still take 95 years to close the gender gap in this sphere – which has had a positive effect on women occupying leadership and senior positions. According to a report from McKinsey and, there has been an increase of 24% in female representation at executive level.

Meanwhile, equality in education is at 96.1% globally, with only 12 years until it is fully reached. A total of 35 countries in the report have already achieved gender equality in education.

Study International News reports that around the world, more women are attending higher education institutions than men, but, not only is their attendance higher but, according to The New York Times, so is their performance.

Health is at 95.7% parity, where 48 countries have reached equality and 71 have closed at least 97% of the gap.

Regressing in economic participation and opportunity

A major problem revealed by the report is the decrease in women’s financial equality.

Gender equality is at 57.8% in the area of Economic Participation and Opportunity – alone, it would take 257 years of gender equality to be reached, a far higher number than that of education, and an increase of 55 years compared to the 2019 report.

According to the report, the reasons for this are:

  • Women’s jobs are being taken over by technology and mechanisation.
  • Women are not occupying jobs with higher salaries, such as the tech industry.
  • Women are still suffering from lack of care infrastructure and access to capital – in 72 countries in the report, women cannot open bank accounts or acquire credit.

The report provides a solution – or, at least a way to remove a big obstacle to economic equality. With a new tech revolution comes new jobs, and women are falling behind in securing these positions. 

Companies can address this imbalance through the creation of inclusive workplaces; providing opportunities where women can learn skills that will secure them these roles; and take a diverse approach to the hiring process. It’s also important to provide more opportunities to inspire and encourage women in tech.

Increasing representation in leadership

A key finding from this report is the importance of women in leadership to help close the gender gap.

Women in leadership act as role models to inspire other women to succeed. However, women leaders also have the power to make changes that will increase equality both in the workplace and in wider society.

Women in leadership

Successful Diversity and Inclusion programs and initiatives can certainly help to create an inclusive workplace that is key to attract and retaining female workers.

Women directors companies

Thankfully, many political leaders are influencing policies that positively impact equality in the areas of economic participation, education and healthcare.

Mindsets, and not only policies, are changing thankfully. A survey conducted by the National Centre for Social Research reveals that fewer people align themselves with traditional views of gender roles, where 72% of participants disagreed that women should stay at home, compared with 58% a decade ago.

Encouraging women in leadership, shining a spotlight on female role models, creating inclusive workplace cultures and changing mindsets, cultures, and policies - are all attainable ways to close the gender gap.

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