The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has just released a new report (attached), The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth focusing on the economic implications of lack of parity between men and women.

Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women—who account for half the world’s working-age population—do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer. 

Even after decades of progress toward making women equal partners with men in the economy and society, the gap between them remains large. The MGI report acknowledges that gender parity in economic outcomes (such as participation in the workforce or presence in leadership positions) is not necessarily a normative ideal, as it involves human beings making personal choices about the lives they lead; the report also recognizes that men can be disadvantaged relative to women in some instances. However, they believe that the world, including the private sector, would benefit by focusing on the large economic opportunity of improving parity between men and women.

The report considers a “full potential” scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men and have established a strong link between gender equality in society, attitudes and beliefs about the role of women, and gender equality in work. The latter is not achievable without the former two elements. They found virtually no countries with high gender equality in society but low gender equality in work. Economic development enables countries to close gender gaps, but progress in four areas in particular—education level, financial and digital inclusion, legal protection, and unpaid care work—could help accelerate progress.

How does your country rate on gender equality? Explore their comprehensive data set on gender equality and economic growth in different regions and countries around the world on Tableau Public.



PDF icon mgi_power_of_parity_full_report_september_2015.pdf
Comment on this Post


Hello Janice,

Thanks for raising awareness of this important report. I was especially interested in the connection you described between gender equality in work and how this relates to gender equality in the wider society. I'd love to learn more about this. In particular, I'm curious about the directionality of this relationship. Does this report indicate that more equal participation in the workforce leads to more equality in the wider society, or vice versa? Or is it not a direct cause and effect relationship at all, but a correlation caused by some other variable?

I hope you'll consider sharing this post in the Economic Empowerment group. I think it would relate well to the interests and goals of that group! Just let me know if you'd like to re-post there but aren't quite sure how.

Thanks again! Sarah

Hi Sarah. The report states that three elements — gender equality in society, economic development, and a shift in attitudes — are essential for achieving the full potential of women in the workforce. In other words, gender inequality at work is mirrored by gender inequality in society. The economic size of the gender gap is only part of a larger divide that affects society.

The MGI gender equality framework looks at indicators on four dimensions; the first being gender equality in work, which includes the ability of women to engage in paid work and to share unpaid work more equitably with men, to have the skills and opportunity to perform higher-productivity jobs, and to occupy leading positions in the economy. This dimension is driven by the choices men and women make about the lives they lead and the work they do.

The next three dimensions—essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice, and physical security and autonomy—relate to fundamentals of social equality (and are collectively referred to as gender equality in society). They are necessary to ensure that women (and men) have the opportunity to build human capital and the resources and ability to live a life of their own making. Gender equality in society is vital for achieving gender equality in work.