Unless We Look More Closely at Women in the Global Labor Force, We See Only the Tip of the Iceberg.

Empowering One Billion Women

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Oct 25, 2012    •    1839 Views

Name a nation.

No matter which country you choose, you probably would see that women are underemployed. And still then, you would be looking only at the tip of the iceberg. Female labor force underutilization relates to a host of facts about a society that the consulting firm, Booz & Co. compiled in a recent report. Although I was not entirely convinced that all of their variables were quantifiable, I was quite comfortable with their basic premise. The world will be much better off when the one billion or so women that will enter the global economy during the next decade are appropriately empowered.

To assess female empowerment in 128 countries, Booz & Co. used input and output variables to create a Third Billion Index. Input scores involved components like female literacy, access to credit, laws about job opportunities; output numbers included male/female pay equity, the glass ceiling in business and in government, the types of jobs women occupy. Shown by their diagram below, based on the Index rank, Booz also grouped countries to display, for example, who was, “On the Path to Success,” or “At the Starting Gate.”

Crucially, the Booz report points out that the positive externalities of empowering women ripple far beyond the GDP. For example, women with income tend to invest more in their children. As a result, the impact on future generations is geometric.

Their conclusions? The top ranked countries are Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand. The US is #30.

Sources and Resources: The Booz & Co. report, titled “Empowering the Third Billion: Women and the World of Work 2012,” is thought-provoking and, in some ways, surprising. I recommend that you take a look at it. For a much briefer summary, here is an Economist article and the source of my GDP graph below.

Empowering Women Adds to a Nation's GDP

Comparing How Countries Empower Women

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