Reducing the Gender Gap: leadership for all and by all | INCAE
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Reducing the Gender Gap: leadership for all and by all

27 de Octubre 2014
Olivia Ferris Laporte

Did you know that women make almost 80% of consumer choices? And that 50% of university graduates are women? There is no doubt that women’s rights have traveled a long way, but there is still space for growth particularly in Latin America.

If you think that in the 21st century, we have surpassed gender-biases, there is a long way to go.

Gender equality is a concern worldwide. According to the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, the basic aspects that should first be addressed are health and education. Secondly, is the division of labor at work and at home and lastly, for women obtain political and economic leadership positions.

How many of you think that women and men work under equal conditions? That includes remunerations, evaluations, promotions and specific positions. How many of you think men and women equally divide household chores? When both work, who assumes more responsibility on child bearing and the household structure?

Equal opportunity?

According to an article from the Huffington Post, during the last decade, more than 100 million women have joined the formal workforce in Latin America, but still they earn between 60 – 90% of men’s average income. What’s more, women also dedicate a larger part of their time to unremunerated activities.

The wage gap is a common challenged faced by Latin American women, who are as prepared as men, but continue to earn less. In comparison to men, educating women has a higher value added. Providing and advocating for equal rights increases income per capita (as much by 20% by 2030) and in emerging markets, women reinvest 90% of their income in their families and communities.

Some universities aim to have an equal number of men and women as intakes and graduates to ultimately help reduce the gender gap. For example, INCAE offers “Beca Mujer” a scholarship that recognizes women who have shown leadership skills and academic excellence.  INCAE was also a pioneer, in creating a “center exclusively devoted to advancing and promoting women’s leadership potential”, the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL). The MBA program has catered directly to women leaders in the region through courses, student organizations and networks. It is the only business school with more than 40% of female participation in the MBA class.

Although women obtain 60% of university diplomas and make up 50% of the formal work force, we are still not obtaining top leadership positions due to cultural, organizational and personal barriers. As Susan Clancy, head of the CWL, describes it, if organizations and countries want to remain competitive, they should integrate more women into top leadership position.

To truly promote gender equality, we need to work together, men and women. If women are the only ones addressing gender equality, it will take double the time and resources to have an impact. At work, at home, in school, in the street, we should make a joint effort, men and women, to be more aware of how we can reduce the gender gap.

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