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It will take more than 70 years for there to be the same number of women as men in leadership roles. At the current rate of growth, this number will not be on par until the year 2085, according to a new study by the Women’s College at the University of Denver in conjunction with the White House Project.
The study said that although women are consistently outperforming their male counterparts, they’re not being recognised for senior leadership positions as often as men.
“The reasons have to do with unconscious bias, the persistence of exclusionary networks and opportunities, and work-family barriers,” Deborah Rhode, director of the Stanford centre on the Legal Profession told The Daily Beast. “While we’ve made enormous progress in encouraging women to assume traditional men’s roles, we haven’t made comparable progress in encouraging men to take on traditional women’s roles.”
“You still find men much less likely to take time out of the work force to assume primary responsibility for child care, elder care and dealing with emergencies. Even high-achieving women are still assuming the major responsibility in the home for family, and that limits their progress in the world outside the family.”
We asked Tiffani Lennon, Chair of the Law & Society Department at the Women’s College and research lead on the study how she and her team arrived at this date.
“The research organisation Catalyst assessed that for women on boards, it will be about 73 years to be on par with men, and I looked at that and began to calculate, not just women on business boards and in Fortune 500 companies, but across all sectors,” Lennon says. “This is assuming that everything stays the same and the growth in women’s leadership continues along the same track that it’s been for 30 years. So I took that 30 year trend and I applied those trends in the future. And it’s pretty much true across the board, and in some cases, that’s pretty conservative.”
Lennon hopes that the study empowers and ignites people to speed up the rate of growth of women in leadership roles. She says one step in the right direction is to “ensure that your [company’s] promotional practices are based upon performance,” as opposed to more subjective measures.
“Everybody wins. And quite frankly, I think we would see a tremendous jump in women leaders since the data shows that women are outperforming men.”