It appears that gender gap has increased in India with the passage of time and women are in much better place than 25 years ago. But still it is not at the pace it should be. Recently some reports highlighted the gender gap in India.
- The gross enrolment ratio (GER) of girls in elementary education has improved dramatically, from 66% in 1991 to 97% in 2014
- GER of girls has also improved in higher education, from 7.5% in 2002–03 to close to 20% in 2012–13 (just a shade behind boys at 22%).
- In fact, women account for 51% of all post-graduates in India today.
- Yet, statistics reveal that improvement in education hasn’t chipped away at the gender disparity in employment.
- The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2015 ranked India at 139 out of 145 countries on the economic participation and opportunity gap.
- India’s overall female labour force participation (FLFP) rate remains low and has, in fact, dropped from 35% in 1991 to 27% in 2014.
- A widely covered IMF estimate points out that shrinking the gender differences in employment could expand India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 27%. Unlocking this potential definitely requires an increase and shift in the composition of overall employment opportunities as well as questioning of societal strictures.
- In order to improve the current gender gap ratio, there is need to create and celebrate female role models. As women look for examples, they see significantly more men than women, making the path to leadership more difficult to identify with. In such environments, sponsorship initiatives—aimed at identifying ambitious up-and-comers—are crucial for developing the next level of female role models in organizations.
- There is need to encourage flexibility across the workforce:- It includes sabbaticals, work from option, etc.
- Also, Organizations need to proactively coach employees on biases that unconsciously play out through body language, day-to-day behaviour and word choices. These often go undetected and stand in the way of hiring and retaining the best talent in the organization.
- Affinity groups and their mission continue to be as relevant as ever. At the same time, the methods must evolve. They need to be a platform for proactive solutions, be more inclusive, and must bring male colleagues to the table, as peers, thought leaders and co-beneficiaries of the mission.
- The productive employment of more women offers a material benefit for the individual, the family and the nation. As the country commends itself on world-leading economic growth and aspires towards a $20 trillion economy, organizations need to take women along to make this goal a reality. Societal change will be the largest needle mover, but a constant push through the government, organizations and individuals is critical to bend societal norms for the better.