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Woman power, the influence of women in the economy

The saying “Women Power” refers to the worldmovement which promotes women empowerment, wherever they work or live as key for economic growth, political stability, and social transformation. But when women occupy management positions there is what is known as the gender pay gap, and more so in Colombia where male chauvinism and a patriarchal society vision still prevail and women empowerment in management positions in many companies is not equitable.

Women continue to be underpaid in comparison to men, regardless of having the same educational background or perform the same tasks, as revealed in several studies of men/women wage comparisons around the world:

  • According to the General Worker’s Union of Spain, in 2016 in Spain, women, on average earned 23.25% less than men, in other words almost €6,000 less a year.
  • According to the European Commission, in Germany, women work is valued 22% less than men.
  • In Colombia, according to Patricia Grueso, a researcher with the Universidad del Rosario and author of a study on occupational and gender discrimination study, the gap is 20.2%.

The belief that women should earn less than men is still inherent in society. This needs to change for the betterment of society as a whole.

Progress in Colombia

The results in Colombia regarding diminishing this occupational gap are tangible, as they have significantly decreased. Currently it is approximately at 11.8% and it has reduced in the last eight years.

It is also worthwhile to mention that it is more difficult for women to find employment. According to a Colombian Bank of the Republic study, unemployment duration in men has been identified in 4.3 months, while unemployment in women is at 7.2 months; furthermore, the probability of women being unemployed for more than a year is  54.1%, while for men it is 40.1%.

This issue is related to the fact that people think that some jobs may only be carried out by men, therefore they value masculine work more than feminine work. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute study, if women executed the same role than men in occupational markets, they could add US $ 23 billion to the world GDP for 2025.

On the other hand, it has been proven that companies that employ an important amount of women, the goals of the firms are reached with greater efficiency and hastiness, due to their organizational capability, communicational and multitasking skills and their resourcefulness. However, the percentage of women in managerial positions in organizations in Latin America is only 20%. For many employers, men should occupy these positions.

 

But this is not a reason for skepticism. With the years, Colombia has passed new laws and regulations with incentives to encourage more women in management positions, highlighting the work of women and what they may bring to the table. In fact, there have been heroic tasks against gender discrimination in management positions throughout the country.

It is worthwhile to mention that Colombia stands out for being one of the countries in Latin America with more women in management positions with a percentage greater than 51%. This is due to several factors, one of which is the support of the government and private institutions on education on ways to gain employment, offering scholarships exclusively for women. The government, through the Colombian Institute for Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX, for its Spanish acronym) continually opens summons in order to stimulate higher education for women.

In the private sector, there are also initiatives such as in a cosmetics company known as Loreal, which has a scholarship program for “Women in science” which last November awarded four grants for the development of research projects with the participation of women.

Another example is Banco Santander, which offers a scholarship program called “Becas Talento Mujer” (Women Talent Scholarships) which pays 75% to awardees for master’s programs. These types of policies have yielded promising results which are reflected in significant figures. According to the Occupational Observatory for Education, 57.9% of the newer graduates are women.

Despite the progress of the country in Latin America in face of gender inequality cases, the battle has not been won and there is still much to do in the current situation. Women are constantly stigmatized, which is seen daily in streets, parks, mass transportation, and logically in the workplace. Inclusively, it is the value that every individual provides to women in our world that will help slowly breach the gap. Only then may we see an equitable future.

 

Consejo Editorial