Directors of large companies, academics in the main universities, researchers in large research centers, economists in large international organizations… society: climate change, improving the productivity of companies or the discovery of an effective vaccine against cancer. But there are also many others who are looking for new opportunities and who, by the mere fact of being a woman, run into the famous glass ceiling, imperceptible but unfortunately very real.
We have to celebrate that Spanish society, and of course companies, are more aware than ever about the need to move forward on the path towards effective equality between women and men. We are on the right path. The statistics confirm that we are taking steps forward. For example, the ClosinGap indicator prepared by PwC, which has become the benchmark for monitoring gender equality, shows that the gap between both sexes narrowed in 2022, thanks to advances in areas such as employment, education , reconciliation or digitization. However, the mere existence of the gap shows that there is still a lot of work to be done. Specifically, the ClosinGap Index stood at 64.7% in 2022, reaching 100% as full equality, reflecting that the gender gap is 35.3%. The good news is that it is down 1.4 percentage points from what existed in 2021, achieving pre-pandemic records.
Among the achievements we can highlight how, in recent years, there has been an increase in the presence of women in leadership positions in private companies.
To raise awareness of the importance of ending this imbalance, we must not only appeal to the values we share, but also show that behind it lies an economic opportunity. If full equality is realized, the Spanish economy could generate wealth worth more than 212,000 million euros, the equivalent of 17.6% of the Spanish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or a figure similar to the production of our neighbor Portugal in a year. Reducing the gap, according to this same study, would generate the opportunity to create 2.5 million full-time female jobs in Spain, which would serve to completely eliminate unemployment for women.
As with a large-scale challenge, sometimes it takes a few steps forward to reach the goal and a few steps back. Among the achievements we can highlight how, in recent years, there has been an increase in the presence of women in leadership positions in private companies or that more and more university students opt for STEM careers, the acronym in English for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. However, we cannot forget that although women represent half of the population and 13% in the case of Information Technology, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. Likewise, we can highlight that job insecurity is decreasing more slowly among women than among men or that women have been affected more in the labor market by the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot ignore the fact that the unemployment rate among women is still at 14.6% while that of men is 11.3%.
The objective that civil and business society have ahead of us is to promote good practices, and attack the bad ones at the root, to curb the pernicious consequences of gender inequality for our economy. To achieve this, we must rely on levers such as digitization, education, the implementation of tools that correct unconscious biases or the implementation of more ambitious measures in the field of conciliation, which should not be confused with cr a business activity with cosmetic measures.
I am convinced that, if actions are implemented that break stereotypes and glass ceilings, if women’s access to careers for children is promoted, in a few years we will take giant steps to definitively close a gap that not only generates problems but also hinders economic growth itself. We must take this issue more seriously because, if we continue at the current rate, it would take us at least 33 years to achieve effective equality, a time horizon that is too long with which we cannot settle.