Women and men in political decision-making

Data from the 2nd quarter of 2020 show that the proportion of women in national Parliaments (single/lower houses) across the EU countries has reached an all-time high (32%). Still over two thirds of members of Parliament are men and progress is slow and uneven. One in five major political parties in the EU (21.5%) has a woman leader, though there is better representation amongst deputy leaders (34.5% women).

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Cartoon view inside a box with two floors. On the upper floor there are two well-seuited men shaking hands. On the floor beneath are several women in line on some stairs trying to climb up. The two floors are separated by a glass ceiling.

 

Women and men in economic decision-making

Women’s progress in corporate leadership has gradually increased. However, less than 29% of board members of the largest publicly listed companies registered in the EU are women. They account for just 7.8% of Board Chairs and 8.2% of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). The most significant improvement is observed in countries that have taken legislative measures to increase gender balance on boards.

 

What could be done to achieve gender balance?

The under-representation of women in decision-making is a very broad and multifaceted issue. It needs to be placed in the context of a number of policy efforts aimed at improving gender equality. This includes policies to increase the employment rate of women, to reduce the gender pay gap, to tackle gender segregation in education and employment and to tackle non-transparent nomination and promotion schemes still prevalent in political and corporate cultures.

Moreover, it is necessary to promote family-friendly policies, to support a more equal distribution of caring and domestic responsibilities, to improve the reconciliation of  work and family life for both women and men and to overcome gender stereotypes. Measures should be implemented to eliminate individual, organisational and social obstacles to women’s representation in leadership positions.

Men occupy the vast majority of leadership positions. They are the ‘gatekeepers’ to the positions of power. Engagement of male senior leaders is one of the driving forces for change. This applies both in politics and in the corporate world.

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