How Much Gender Equality Can Boost Global GDP

Have you ever thought about how much the world might change for the better if the gender pay gap didn't exist? Well, in case you're interested in the financial side of things, a new study calculated how much more money the global gross domestic product (GPD) would add up to be if women earned the same amount as men for doing the same work — and the researchers found that global gender equality would boost GPD worldwide by a whopping $28 trillion dollars. Just, you know, in case you needed another reason to support gender equality.

McKinsey & Co. calculated this amount in a new report they released on advancing women's economic opportunity worldwide. The report examined 95 countries across 15 gender equality indicators that included measures like legal protection, autonomy, and equality in work. They then put these scores against a measure that they defined as "full potential," which is an economy where women are participating at the same level as men across the board, in every country. Looking at this, they found that if this disparity were mitigated everywhere, the world GDP would grow by 26 percent, or $28 trillion, in 2025. "This impact is roughly equivalent to the size of the combined Chinese and U.S. economies today," the report's authors wrote.

They also put together a more realistic measure of how even small changes could help to bring this number up. If each country increased women's level of pay to reflect the rate of the fastest improving nation in the region, the annual world GPD would increase by $12 billion by 2025. "Women are such a crucial part of society and they are an under tapped resource,” Anu Madgavkar, a McKinsey Global Institute senior fellow and a lead author of the report, told Bloomberg Business.

Overall, the world is falling pretty short when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. The report found that 40 of the 95 countries they studied had high or extremely high levels of gender inequalityacross at least half of their 15 indicators. There were also some common threads amongst all countries, which included low levels of gender equality in the sharing of unpaid labor, political and legal representation levels, and the amount of women in leadership positions. Madgavkar commented on this to Bloomberg Business, saying that these trends reflect "globally pervasive problems" that won't just solve themselves through development and technology. These are problems we need to be facing head on.

With this, McKinsey & Co. also identified a series of "impact zones," which are issues that would lead to real change for at least three out of four women worldwide who are facing gender disparities. These global impact zones include areas like global impact blocked economic potential, time spent in unpaid care work, and fewer legal rights.

Looking at the bright side, one area they studied that didn't present a large gender gap was Internet access. 52 percent of those who didn't have Internet access were women, compared to 48 percent of men, which means that there doesn't seem to be a gender-based pattern reflected here. But, they found that 4fourof the world's 7.3 billion people still can't get online, which should be a huge wake-up call for all of us in the information age.

Finally, McKinsey & Co. came up with six forms of innovation that can help to bridge these gender gaps across the world. "Six types of intervention are necessary to bridge the gender gap: financial incentives and support; technology and infrastructure; the creation of economic opportunity; capability building; advocacy and shaping attitudes; and laws, policies, and regulations," they wrote in their report. They also came up with 75 ways that individual nations could act within these categories that would help them to tackle their greatest problems. But, they see that creating change around this issue will take more than just government involvement and must be addressed in the private sector. "Tackling gender inequality will require change within businesses as well as new coalitions. The private sector will need to play a more active role in concert with governments and nongovernmental organizations, and companies could benefit both directly and indirectly by taking action," they added.

Let's all do our part in ensuring that we're being accountable for equal pay, shall we?

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