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Time to Update the Leadership Script

After a year of pandemic-induced turmoil in which women political leaders outperformed their male counterparts, the case for greater gender parity in leadership roles should be obvious. Nonetheless, a new international survey shows that there has been little progress in changing public attitudes.

NEW YORK – As governments around the world seek to “build back better” from the pandemic, addressing women’s under-representation in political and corporate leadership must be at the top of the agenda. We simply cannot achieve the resilient, inclusive, and sustainable societies that we need if the current gap between women and men persists.

Closing the gap would yield massive economic benefits. The World Bank estimates that bringing women’s lifetime earnings up to the same level as those of men would translate into a “gender dividend” of $172 trillion in global human-capital wealth. We already know that companies with higher levels of both gender and ethnic diversity tend to deliver better economic performance.

Nonetheless, new research from the Reykjavík Index for Leadership shows a lack of progress in public perceptions of women’s suitability for leadership roles in comparison to the way that men in such roles are perceived. An Index score of 100 indicates that there is complete agreement that men and women are equally suitable for leadership. That score has remained stagnant across all countries surveyed for the last three years, averaging 73.

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