A new financial report suggests that a lack of women in the workplace stops the United States from adding billions of pounds to its GDP.
Standard & Poor’s (S&P), a financial company which runs the S&P 500 stock market index, argues that increasing women in the workforce – especially in areas traditionally dominated by men - is the key to adding some $1.6 trillion (approximately £1.1 trillion) to the country’s economy.
Compared to the average man, the average woman earns on average 83 per cent less, and the US is the only country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that doesn’t provide monetary support during maternity or paternity leave by law.
Angel Gurria, Secretary-General at OECD insists that women are:
The most underutilised economic asset in the world.
The report states that had women stayed in the workforce at the same rate as those in Norway in the 1970s, the US economy would be $1.6 trillion (approximately £1.1 trillion) larger than it is today: to put it in real terms, every person in the country – that’s every man, woman and child - would have an extra $5,000 (£3,735)
The report identified that though gender plays a “significant role in workers’ vulnerability”, the biggest hindrance to women entering the workforce at a similar rate to men is education.
S&P believes that promoting more women to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields in higher education is the key “that could unlock the earning power of American women”.
Currently, the employment rate in the US for people who studied STEM subjects stands at 88 per cent, yet only 14 per cent of women studied in a STEM field.
The report concludes that a serious change in the way we look at the workforce needs to happen.
There must be change, and all indications certainly suggest that society recognises this time in history as ripe for a serious overhaul in relation to gender accessibility to the workforce.
This journey begins with a fundamental rethinking of policy (and policy tools) that must break through the structural short-termism of politics and look beyond simply supporting women with family obligations.