Yes, friends, we’re here to talk about the fresh-out-of-the-oven depressing-as-heck new estimates of how long it will take to close the global economic gender gap. It will now take 267.6 years to close, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said in its annual gender gap report, released this week. The report also notes that the impact of the pandemic on economic participation may not have fully registered yet and that the gap could actually be a few percentage points higher. YIKES.
While women worldwide continue to increase their representation among skilled professionals, there are still way too few women in leadership positions, which is helping to drive the persistent (and growing) gap, the WEF reports.
Looking at gender parity overall — so not just economic factors but also health, education and political representation — the countries to aspire to are Iceland, Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden (coincidentally, several of these countries also produce excellent detective series, should you need a distraction from these abysmal numbers).
More news to note 📝
There is also a schmoozing gender gap. The whole “old boys’ club” concept — men benefiting professionally in an outsized way from their social connections with other men, to the detriment of women — was recently given a rigorous data-driven review by two economists. Their findings showed a strong correlation between the amount of time men spend socializing with their male managers at work and positive career trajectories; there was no corresponding increase found in their productivity or performance 😳. And the reasons that women are not able to spend as much time in the schmooze zone is likely, yes, you guessed it, systemic sexism. [NPR]
LinkedIn is adding a “stay-at-home parent” option to its job titles, (finally) normalizing very normal employment gaps. Workforce reentry is a prevalent issue for mothers and one very simple solve, as well argued in this Medium op-ed, is to allow caretakers the option of explaining their absence on professional platforms like LinkedIn. The piece, which resulted in LinkedIn updating its profile options, says that, by not including caregiving titles, “employers and prospective employees [must] dance around the topic of family, thereby preventing meaningful conversations about workplace policies that could better support the hiring, productivity, job satisfaction, and retention of employees.” [Fortune]
President Joe Biden’s judicial picks include three Black women, demonstrating a new commitment to diversity on the federal bench. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who some predict will be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, will succeed Merrick Garland on the appeals court in Washington. Biden’s nominees reflect a distinct departure from the choices made by the previous administration, whose picks were overwhelmingly white and male. [WaPo]
Does harassment need to be in the job descriptions for women journalists, politicians and tech workers? That’s how we’re feeling after a slew of articles this week on how social media and our pandemic-era digital WFH lives have helped to fuel an increase in vicious gendered attacks against female workers in these sectors. Read this Vanity Fair article about how female journalists are forced to deal with a “daily deluge of smears.” And this NPR piece on the uptick in harassment particularly affecting women, transgender and nonbinary workers in tech. And this Politico piece on how women politicians, activists and academics — who often rely on their social presences for career success — are facing an increasingly toxic online environment amid the pandemic. Un. Be. Lieveable. And yet, sadly, isn’t it?
Srsly Siri, it’s about time. Apple’s voice assistant will no longer default to a female voice, the company announced this week. Big Tech’s consistent use of feminine voices for digital assistants, AKA inanimate objects we boss around, has been the subject of frequent criticism these past few years for reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes but, until now, nothing’s been done about it. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant still both default to feminine voices — hopefully they’ll take Apple’s cue and start to move their AI mindset of the 1950s. [CNBC]
Volvo is paving the way for more gender equality with six months of parental leave. Moving on from the big Volvo news earlier this week — its April Fool’s joke rebrand to “Voltswagen,” which backfired big time — the Swedish carmaker is aiming to attract talent and increase retention with a new policy giving equal paid time off to both parents. Employees worldwide are allowed to take the time whenever they like, so long as it’s within three years of the birth of their child. [Economic Times]
And just like that…
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