How women could change the world

Published: Monday, March 11 2013 1:27 p.m. MDT

March 8 marked International Women's Day. Although there has been considerable improvement in gender equality since the first International Women's Day was celebrated in 1909, there is still a long way to go, according to ThinkProgress bloggers Annie-Rose Strasser and Tara Culp-Ressler.

"If we can help women get on equal footing with men, they will help us all, globally, to succeed," they argue. They suggest several ways "women could change the world, if we let them."

One way Strasser and Culp-Ressler say women could change the world is if they had equal opportunities for employment. Increasing women's participation in the workforce would transform the global economy for the better, they write.

Research seems to back up this assertion. A study published in the Harvard Business Review projects that if the female employment in the U.S. matched the male rates, overall GDP would rise by 5 percent. In Japan, the GDP would jump by 9 percent.

Many studies note how improving women's access to education would be a good place to start to address this problem. For example, a study conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that each country’s GDP grows by 3 percent for every additional 10 percent of girls going to school.

Another way Strasser and Culp-Ressler say women could change the world is if they had leadership positions in businesses. About 36 percent of U.S. companies currently don’t have a single woman on their boards of directors, according to the New York Times. This isn't just a problem in the United States. A study by nonprofit organization Catalyst found that Canadian women hold only 5.7 percent of CEO positions at top companies. In Latin America there are only nine female CEO's of top companies.

However, as Strasser and Culp-Resser note, there are many reasons mixed gender leadership is a good thing. A growing body of evidence suggests that it actually translates into better profits. A study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute compared similarly-sized businesses and found that those with women on their boards outperformed those with all-male boards by 26 percent.

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