Women took just a 10th of world's top jobs since 1945

Many major organisations have never had a female leader, study finds

The report calls for proportional representation of women in multilateral organisations at every level. Getty
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Women have held 12 per cent of the top positions at 33 of the largest institutions since 1945, according to a report.

More than a third of the organisations, including the four largest development banks, have never been led by a woman, said the study by GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion.

Five have had a female president once in their history, including the current head of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The study listed 13 institutions that have never been headed by a woman since the end of the Second World War, including the World Bank, the UN, the International Atomic Energy Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The report, which will be released during this week’s meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, calls for proportional representation of women in multilateral organisations at every level, from field offices to headquarters, in secretariats and governing bodies.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, a former Ecuadorean foreign minister who served as president of the UN General Assembly from 2018-2019, said: “The truth is that numbers matter.

“But I also believe that women bring this combination of leadership, wisdom and empathy, and sometimes an even greater understanding of what is happening in the world.”

Since 1945, the institutions studied have had 382 leaders, 47 of them women, the report showed. Despite recent progress, one-third of the institutions are currently headed by women.

GWL Voices said it would release a more extensive version of the report in September that would also look at the senior management teams and governing bodies of the 33 institutions. It said it was pushing for governance reforms that could “accelerate the transition to gender-balanced leadership”.

The report also revealed that women’s representation is slightly better in organisations in charge of areas such as children, food, population and health.

But men dominate the fields of politics, finance, international development, labour, nuclear energy, intellectual property, meteorology, agriculture, industrial development, and maritime affairs.

The information in the report is based on publicly available sources, such as institutional websites that list the name, nationality and gender of leaders. Data was gathered in January and February.

There has been a notable recent focus on women in the workforce, particularly gender disparities in pension provisions.

Women in the UK are facing shortfall of £123,000 in their retirement pots compared to men, according to pension provider Scottish Widows.

This gap is primarily driven by gender imbalances in pay, working patterns and time off for childcare. While there has been a slight improvement in the outlook for young women over the years, the disparity remains stark.

According to research, the average 25-year-old woman is on track to retire with £100,000 less in her pension than a man. This shortfall represents an additional 16 years of work, meaning she would have to retire at 81 to reach the same level of pension.

These imbalances have been affecting women for generations and continue to persist, compounded by the gender pay gap.

Despite the bleak outlook, there are actions women can take to improve their financial security in retirement, according to Scottish Widows.

Firstly, women should start saving for their pensions as early as possible, and seek advice on investment options that align with their goals. Secondly, women should consider working longer or delaying retirement to maximise their retirement savings. Finally, women should be paid fairly and equal opportunities to progress in their careers.

Updated: March 07, 2023, 12:23 PM