Women drive growth — but still paid less

The largest growing economic force in the world isn’t China or India – it’s women.

So pronounced CNN following the surprise finding that women are driving economic growth across the world.

And it’s not just from shopping up a storm — although it appears that women spend more than 70% of consumer dollars worldwide

In addition to the shopping cliché, the fairer sex can now be credited with creating a whopping 70% of the global growth in income at the household level over the next five years.

The findings are part of a newly released global research study by the United States-based Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which surveyed 12 000 women in 22 countries.

Defining the economy
Women, who account for half of university students across the globe, are increasingly defining the entrepreneurial economy.

But the encouraging numbers are yet to have any kind of effect on that stubborn glass ceiling.

BCG partner Michael Silverstein revealed that women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men do. And the ranks of female CEOs are still thin. “Most of the big companies are worked by men, for men,” he said.

In South Africa women have long been the powerhouse of their communities. But a local business programme aimed at woman has spotted a gap in management practice — and one that women seem best-suited to fill.

‘The increasing complexity and uncertainty of business in a globalised world are waking us up to the limitations of traditional management paradigms,” said Dr Marjolijn Dijksterhuis, director of the Women in Leadership programme running at the UCT Graduate School of Business.

People-orientation ‘essential’
“It is becoming clearer that the ability to lead people through change and toward cooperation and innovation has become essential to the success of organisations, and companies are now looking for leaders who can inspire that change.

‘I believe women have a lot to offer in terms of these more people-oriented demands,” she said.

While government has been driving gender equality in Cabinet, we are yet to see that same change in CEOs across the country.

But with the sea change evinced by the BCG survey coupled with new leadership programmes, it may only be a matter of time before the ceiling is shattered.

  • The leadership course is offered by the Executive Education unit of the UCT GSB and runs next year in May. It is aimed at women in middle or senior level positions. Contact Junita Abrahams on 021 406 1323 or [email protected]
  • For more on gender visit our special report on 16 days of activism here.
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