The role women play in contributing to the global economic development has become something familiar to all. Women make up of 40% of the workforce in 80 countries and the entrepreneurial activity of women has shown a significant increase over the years. However, the gender gap still shows a substantial and disproportionate difference between men and women.
Typically, the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the gender gap is the pay gap where there is a difference in salaries between men and women. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, full-time female employees earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20%. In 2017, the World Economic Forum calculated that the average pay for women was $12,000 while men earned $21,000.
In the workplace, the pay gap isn’t the only inequality women face, but also the actual positions women are able to acquire. According to a report by Fortune, out of the world’s biggest organizations, over 93% of them are led by men and only 6.9% of Fortune 1000 chief executives are women. In other words, for every female executive, there are 12 male executives.
It has increasingly become difficult for women to reach executive positions not because they are incapable of performing those duties, but because men, and oftentimes other women, do not feel comfortable having a female leader running a company thanks to “traditional” gender roles that are placed upon women. These gender roles place men in leadership positions while leaving women in lower level positions.
During a panel session on the topic of Women in Business at the 10th Eduniversal World Convention in Dubai, speakers Dr. Aneeta Madhok, Ms. Proonam Bhojani and Dr. Dima Jamali discussed the current state of the gender gap and how entrepreneurship can help diminish the issue. Being successful women in business, these three speakers offered some insight on the positive impact of women pursuing entrepreneurship to help close the gender gap.
In a time where women face unfair treatment in the workplace over men, women are encouraged now more than ever to become entrepreneurs. Managing your own business is one of the most effective ways women can close the gender gap as it allows female leadership to be the deciding factor in areas such as pay, job promotions, and creates more female CEOs, a position mostly dominated by men.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), their 2016/2017 Women’s Entrepreneurship report shows that female entrepreneurship is continuing an upward trend worldwide with an increase of women entrepreneurial activity by 10% and a decrease in the gender gap by 5% since 2014.
The GEM report also states that “in the past year, 163 million women were starting businesses across 74 economies worldwide, while 111 million were running established businesses […] These same economies show an 8% increase in women’s ownership of established businesses.”
Although the formation of female-owned businesses is steadily rising, there are many challenges women face, including the “traditional” gender-roles placed by society and in some countries, placed by their customs. People find it uncomfortable having women in leadership because they see it as a male-dominated field. With the continuation of this mindset, it becomes more of a challenge for women to enter the entrepreneurial field, creating a longer wait to close the gender gap. According to the World Economic Forum, statistical progression shows that economic disparities between men and women will be closed in another 118 years, (2133 AD).
Besides generally closing the gender gap, some benefits to women joining the entrepreneurial field include their contribution to economic development, poverty reduction, children’s education, health and nutrition, compared to male entrepreneurs, as stated by the World Bank.
With an increase in women in business comes a decrease in the unequal and unfair gender gap. Although it would seem to take over 100 years to completely close the gap, many benefits come along with the increase of women in business that help change the world in some positive way. Understanding these benefits and promoting women entrepreneurs is one step towards an equal future workforce.