COMMITMENT TO EQUALITY: The business of empowering women (April 26, 2017, by Laura Araujo Menéndez)

The number of women in management positions is still very low

One of the challenges our society has to face is the inequality that exists in a lot of circumstances and situations between men and women. Today, in the 21st century, the gap presented in the working area is still alarming, especially when it comes to the access to management position. It is known as glass ceiling.

Throughout history, women have had to fight to obtain their rights. Some of them are to be free from sexual violence, to have reproductive rights, to vote, to hold public office, to work, to enter into le- gal contracts, to have equal rights in family law, to fair wages or equal payment, to own property and to have access to education.

If the path of women towards the world of work has been a constant struggle, the road to leadership positions has been even more difficult. Obstacles such as stereotypes or prejudices about women are part of this path, that is, invisible barriers that hinds or prevents women from promoting in the hierarchical pyramid of any company or organization.

We are talking about a glass ceiling existing for women. An invisible limit of the access to higher job positions that has some- times been weakened and crossed.

The glass ceiling could be a problem at least during the next 50 years if we continue in the same vein. Overcome it involves actions in different areas such as governments, entrepreneurs, educational institutions and women themselves. In a government level, in  2012, the European Commission presented an approach in order to increase the presence of women in executive positions by 2020. Many European countries have started taking measures in that way, although 11 countries of the European Union have not developed specific regulations yet.

In Spain, according to data from Ministry of Employment, women were at the end of 2014, more than the 46% of the active population of the country. The salary gap was a 3% bigger than the European average. The Global Gender Gap Report shows that Spain ranks 25th among 145 countries listed regarding gender gap. In Spain, this inequality is associated with patriarchy, the vision of society we are used to. All the changes that are needed begin with   education.

“If women win, companies and countries also win”, said Catalina Escobar, chairwoman of Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar foundation in Colombia, specialized in improving the quality of life of girls in situation of poverty. For Escobar, the key to revert gender inequality in companies is “to invest in education and in women empowerment”.

This is the key that all women that have broken the glass ceiling highlight. María José Álvarez, president of Eulen group says: “I have been lucky of being born in a family that insisted me on studying, that it would give me freedom and Independence”. Álvarez’s father made her starting from cero and in that way she learnt the value of determination to progress. “Women have to know that if we want, we can”.

By Laura Araujo Menéndez

April 26, 2017

 

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