Women may be shouting louder than ever for equal treatment and pay, but a report out Tuesday indicates it will take centuries to achieve gender parity in workplaces around the globe.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) report said there had been some improvements in wage equality this year compared to 2017, when the global gender gap widened for the first time in a decade.
But it warned that these were offset by declining representation of women in politics, coupled with greater inequality in their access to health and education.
At current rates, the global gender gap across a range of areas will not close for another 108 years, while it is expected to take 202 years to close the workplace gap, WEF found.
The Geneva-based organisation’s annual report tracked disparities between the sexes in 149 countries across four areas: education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment.
After years of advances in education, health and political representation, women registered setbacks in all three areas this year, WEF said.
Only in the area of economic opportunity did the gender gap narrow somewhat, although there is not much to celebrate, with the global wage gap narrowing to nearly 51 percent.
And the number of women in leadership roles has risen to 34 percent globally, WEF said.
But at the same time, the report showed that there are now proportionately fewer women than men participating in the workforce, suggesting that automation is having a disproportionate impact on jobs traditionally performed by women.
And women are significantly under-represented in growing areas of employment that require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, WEF said.
It decried the particularly low participation of women within the artificial intelligence field, where they make up just 22 percent of the workforce.
Big regional differences
“This gap is three times larger than in other industry talent pools,” the WEF statement pointed out.
“In addition to being outnumbered three to one, women in AI are less likely to be positioned in senior roles,” it said, stressing the “clear need for proactive measures to prevent a deepening of the gender gap in other industries where AI skills are in increasing demand.”