Bay brief

Avatar of Gursimar Kaur
News Column

Women in the present day economy contribute to approximately $7.6 trillion in economic activity, according to RBC Wealth. But, as we celebrate another Women’s History Month, it’s worth exploring women’s position and contribution to the economy today. Since the 19th Amendment, known popularly for giving women the right to vote, there has been an uptick in women’s active engagement in the political and economic scene of our nation. However, despite our many celebrations of women each March, we as a society still struggle at achieving equality, both nationally and internationally.

As of 2022, women make up a majority of the college-educated U.S. workforce. Women’s homeownership stood at 61.2 percent by the end of the last decade, and according to Top Media Advertising, 91 percent of new home purchases were by women. More single homebuyers are women than men, according to National Association of Realtors. Latest 2023 statistics suggest that 29.2 percent of chief executive positions are held by women, which is higher than the mere 15 percent in 2019. These statistics suggest that we have come a long way from the situations around women’s role in the economy. As Berkeleyans, or members of the Bay Area in general, all of us are living in a place that’s comparatively progressive to other parts of the country. We have put a lot of emphasis on women empowerment. But, the question remains: is talking about the issues actually solving these issues in the real world?

Sexism remains incredibly prevalent in our society. Talks of gender pay gaps happen throughout different industries. Mortgages can be more expensive for minority groups like women. Gender roles remain an obstacle in women’s careers. 50 percent of the world’s population is composed of women, yet, women are only able to contribute to 37 percent to the global GDP, according to World Bank. In the tech industry, only 30 percent of workers globally are women. On the political stage, only 19 countries have a woman as head of government. There are only six countries where women constitute 50 percent or more of the parliament, according to UN Women.

Gender roles in our society are reflected through the industries that have remained predominantly female staffed, such as education and nursing. As of 2019, 74.8 percent of the education and health services industry were occupied by women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Besides the heavy gender roles in our work sectors, women in the workforce must also deal with the pay gap inequality. For 20 years, the gender pay gap has sat steadily at an 18 percent difference. Women earn 82 percent of what men earn for the same jobs. It is astounding that there has been virtually no change to this number since the beginning of the century.

It is apparent that yes, there has been progress in women’s contribution to the economy in the past 100 years. However, there are factors at play that work as obstacles to hold minority groups back. This progress needs to occur more rapidly. How long are we going to overlook the inequality and lack of access to economic opportunities for women at a global level?