From CEO suites to the corridors of power, women are closing the leadership gender gap Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch


Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

In the United States and the United Kingdom, and even at the United Nations, there’s a buzz around women in power at the moment, reports the World Economic Forum.

Keith Breene Senior Writer, Formative Content at the Forum wrote that “Hilary Clinton is in a strong position to become the next president of the United States.’’

The UK doesn’t yet know who its next prime minister will be, but it does know she will definitely be a woman, with the shortlist down to Teresa May and Andrea Leadsom.

With the opposition Labour Party in disarray, there is talk of current leader Jeremy Corbyn being challenged by Angela Eagle. Scotland, meanwhile, is led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. In fact, all three of the main political parties in Scotland are now led by women.

And with the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s power has been even further enhanced.

Meanwhile, former UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres has been nominated as a candidate to be next UN secretary-general.

It feels, for once, like women are tipping the balance when it comes to the key positions of power in politics. But their achievements haven’t come out of nowhere: in fact, women have been doing well in politics in quite a few places for quite a while now.

In fact, there are now two countries in the world with more women than men in parliament: Rwanda and Bolivia.

The countries with the highest percentage of female MPs

women in parliament

Image: Inter-Parliamentary Union

Africa features heavily in the top 10 with Senegal, Seychelles and South Africa following behind Rwanda. Senegal comes sixth, with a parliament that is 43 per cent women; and South Africa is joint seventh, with 42 per cent of its parliament being women.

Nordic countries also feature strongly, with Sweden and Finland making it into the top 10.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named a young and ethnically diverse cabinet, with a ministerial team that, for the first time in the country’s history, is equally balanced between men and women.

The ministers – 15 women and 15 men – are mostly aged under 50, thanks to a recruitment drive that marked both a generational change and a commitment to reflecting Canada’s diversity.

It’s not just in politics that women have been reaching the top of their profession. Christine Lagarde is to serve a second term as head of the International Monetary Fund, Janet Yellen leads the U.S. Federal Reserve and Mary Barra, as CEO and Chair of General Motors, is one of a growing band of high-profile businesswomen.

The leadership gender gap isn’t entirely closed, however.

The U.S. and UK – while on the cusp of having female political leaders – are lacking when it comes to parliamentary representation.

The U.S. Senate is just 20 per cent female, and more than 80 per cent of the House of Representatives members, and 88 per cent of governors, are men. At Westminster it is just 29 per cent.

So, to quote Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard, when it comes to viewing how women are doing in positions of power around the world in the light of those about to take power: “It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing.”

Author: Cerebral Lemon