Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Gender Barriers and Solutions to Leadership Do Women’s are getting chance to participate in decision making? Reply To: Do Women’s are getting chance to participate in decision making?

Yash Tiwari
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Women make up 50.8% of the world’s population but they are seriously under-represented in decision-making positions and business. Gender balancing (or gender mainstreaming) is an attempt to bridge the male-female gap in decision-making positions by creating opportunities for a more balanced representation of women, particularly at higher levels of authority and management. Acknowledging these facts, all international representatives have been showing more interest in gender equality for decades. They have adopted several instruments to implement the principle of equal rights and opportunities for men and women. Women have entered the labor market in large numbers during the past decades. There is no doubt that this is a great economic and social achievement, motivated by the desire of having more equality between women and men.

To a large extend women’s underrepresentation in the fields of power and decision-making is the result of social exclusion. Despite their essential role in building social capital, women are often excluded from participating in decision-making processes (women participate less in public or political consultation; they have lower participation rates in interest groups; etc.). It is also important to remember that equality does not mean equal participation in all kinds of activities. Rather, it is an issue of equal access to resources. Because men’s and women’s careers do not generally progress in parallel it is easy to see why women are often not considered for top positions. In academia, for example, the process of “publish or perish” puts researchers under much pressure to focus on publishing papers rather than acquiring practical skills. This ultimately tells against women who on top of pulling their weight in terms of publishing, are also expected to balance home life with those responsibilities.

There are many good reasons to give women a chance to participate in decision-making. Two of the most important relate to economic growth and stability. Why do we care about these? Because if we are going to make the world an economically better place, then we need growth. And peace and prosperity in a country depend on income from exports plus contributions from foreign investors which makes growth vital for development. In fact, in many localities, women are responsible for the greater share of farm production. To support these positive trends, governments need to make legal and policy frameworks more conducive to more gender-sensitive development.

However, this may not be the case. According to an empirical study by Marianne Bertrand and Sébastien Raymond in 2003, and other studies carried out since then, the opposite was found; the introduction of mandated gender quotas leads to an increase in women’s competence. Thus, while we cannot be certain, there is a definite risk that promoting higher numbers of women in leadership will translate into a generally lower quality of representatives. This may hold for more conservative countries. It is, therefore, necessary to think about how to encourage more capable women to put themselves forward.