If current trends continue, a baby girl born today will only see the gender gap in health, education, economic opportunity and politics completely close around the world if she lives to 83. ~2016 World Economic Forum
If you’re a woman or know someone who is, the news from the 2016 World Economic Forum is not good. According to its 2016 Global Gender Gap report, gender inequality remains a drag on economic growth around the world, a situation that will not improve while I’m alive, unless the singularity is nearer than Ray Kurzweil thought, and I live to be 222 (the age when the US gender gap closes, according to the WEC Gender Gap Calculator)
Despite the fact that 95 countries now have women graduating university in equal or greater numbers to men, only 4 have reached gender parity in their ranks of legislators, senior officials and managers. The Nordic countries remain at the top of the equality index, while the US fails to break the top ten, or twenty or even thirty — we’re 45th, well behind Rwanda (5) Slovenia (8), Germany (13) and France (17).
The WEC defines gender inequality as ‘the acute misuse of talent’, framing sexism as the economic issue that it first and foremost is, though obviously #notallmen quite recognize this.
I am more sanguine than the WEC; I do not think “current trends will continue”. I think this will be the decade of women. I expect to see some profound cultural shifts in the way women are portrayed and perceived, fueled by many forces converging together.
I see a steady-to-rapid rise in the number of women owned businesses, women-created investment funds, women VCs and angel investors, women in the C-Suite, women revolutionaries taking the stage at TED, all of them investing in women, themselves, through hiring, financially backing, mentoring, leading and being.
I see the patriarchy staggering, on it’s way to toppling. Of course its demise will not be complete until women walk the halls of economic power , owning media companies, running banks and governments, rendering the Bohemian Club a quaint male bastion of outdated privileges whose colossally unearned wealth outrages the 99.9%, male and female alike. We’re not there yet and we can’t be rightly said to be close….but we’re getting there. We are only 5% of the Fortune 500 CEOs…but there were exactly zero on the list when I was in college.
Today, there is a historic number of college-educated girls in the pipelines of power, and in their world, in their expectations, a woman President or Prime Minister is an obvious-my-dear-Watson thing. Even if someone tells them they can’t or shouldn’t, history has already spoken. Merkel, May, LaGarde, Yellin, Rice, Allbright, Clinton, others — they collectively do not represent an apex of achievement so much as the vanguard of a shift making room for the brilliance of women alongside the brilliance of men.
What is common to the point of blasé in my generation — to be sexually harassed, abused or assaulted — will sink out of sight like a mastadon in the primordial ooze. Rape culture is in the white hot spotlight; Roger Ailes, Donald Trump and Bill Cosby are the nails in its coffin and while three nails aren’t enough to keep the corpse inside, more will follow because women are losing their fear of speaking out. Even most of Trump’s fans found the pussy grabbing deplorable; even Melania and Ivanka had their disapproving say. The culture is moving away from one of reflexive victim blaming to one of listening, and responding. Because we all want the same thing: for our daughters to grow up in a better – safer, more equitable – world than we did.
In the US, religion is on the wane. The numbers of irreligious have more than tripled in the short space of my adult life. Our daughters will expect, demand to be the sole controllers of their bodies, rejecting the notion that an arbitrary religious or governmental party power can subjugate women’s bodies. We are not there yet — but we *will* get there. I can see where the road inevitably leads, the path forged by the efforts of so many committed, able women. They are out there even now, sweating with the effort and their labor will bear the fruit of female independence.
With the advent of the blockchain we are on the cusp of a technological revolution with the power to democratize the world and create new opportunities for those disenfranchised in this rigged economy from wealth building and prosperity. In the coming Internet of value, women will have new tools to escape, defeat and transform misogynistic forces arrayed against them.
Perhaps someday women will achieve the ultimate equality of human rights, and live in a world where there are no girls anywhere who are being mutilated, raped, enslaved, abused, traded, abandoned, sold or killed. A world every mother, every father, wants to promise their daughter.
Women are not ‘finding their voice’ — our voices were always there, suppressed. Women are RAISING their voices, liberating them. Many won’t like it but all must get used to it, for I suspect women will not be quieted again. We have drawn too much strength from one another, hearing our own stories repeated, our sense of outrage reinforced, our fire to design a better world ignited. We are the voice of half the world, and we are a force that must be reckoned with.
Originally published on Medium