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Science Says That Gender Equality in the Workplace Is Still a Lifetime or Two Away

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If you think that we’re getting close to men and women being treated equally on the job, in theory and in practice, well, science says you’re putting the cart ahead of the horse. At the rate we’re going, we’re still a good two centuries from equality being an actual reality.

Basically, if the pace doesn’t pick up, no one today will live to see it, and neither will our children. The jury’s still out for our great-grandkids.

This saddening news comes from a report compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and is based on pay rates seen over the last two decades. The numbers don’t lie – it’s going to be around 257 years before gender equality exists around the globe.

Some countries, of course, will reach that goal more quickly than others. Iceland tops the list for most equal, with its Nordic neighbors not far behind – Norway, Finland, and Sweden are 2, 3, and 4. At the bottom of the list are Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen, while Albania, Ethiopia, Mali, Mexico, and Spain win awards for most improved.

The Gender Global Gap Report comes with similar data after analyzing the progress toward gender parity in professions like technology and politics in 153 different countries. They use four major categories to come up with their rankings: economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

Though gender equality goals are improving, some of the world is seeing backward progress or stagnation overall.

Unsurprisingly, politics is not doing so hot – women hold over just 25% of parliamentary seats and just 20% of ministerial positions. Parity is nearly 95 years away.

Education is looking up, though, with gender parity projected to happen in around 12 years (though we still struggle when it comes to fairness across economic statuses).

When it comes to the workplace, though, projections are pretty dismal. Across the globe, just over 50% of women between the ages of 15 and 64 are employed, compared to around 75% of men. Experts believe this is largely due to women not entering high-growth professions like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

There are still 72 nations in the world that prohibit women from opening bank accounts or obtaining credit on their own, and there is nowhere in the world where men spend anywhere close to the same amount of time on unpaid work like childcare or household chores.

The very best scenarios are still 2-to-1.

WEF says that encouraging more women to work, to work in STEM fields, and to enter politics will help bring the gender gap closer to balanced in the workplace.

“At the dawn of the 2020s, building fairer and more inclusive economies must be the goal of global, national, and industry leaders. To get there, instilling gender parity across education, health, politics, and across all forms of economic participation will be critical.”

At the current pace, gender gaps will continue in Western Europe for another 54 years, 151 years in North America, and they will continue to persist in places like East Asia for over 163 years.