March in New York (United States) in 2018 to demand equal pay between men and women.ALBA VIGARAY / EFE / EFE
Women hold up half the sky.
They represent 3,850 million souls of the 7,700 that inhabit the Earth.
The writer Nikos Kazantzakis wrote that "all women are the same woman, but with a different face."
Each one is such an essential universe that it is painful to justify with numbers the equity owed to it by existence.
If the gender gap were to disappear, between 12 and 28 trillion dollars would be added to world GDP in 2025. From 9.8 to 22.9 trillion euros.
This last number is the sum of the wealth of China and the United States.
It's the Bank of America calculations.
But the hairpin is as huge as the Chinese Three Gorges Dam.
Because for years there has been no interest in calculating the economic disadvantage of being a woman.
Many experts complain about the lack of reliable historical figures.
Enough sentences remain to write headlines, and too many come from the dictionary of forgotten words.
The World Bank estimates that continuing to keep this fracture open generates losses of 160 billion dollars or that at the current rate it will take 257 years to heal the economic wound.
But the numbers assail life and the gender gap may be the latest casualty of the pandemic.
In April - one of the hardest months of the health crisis - 55% of the 20.5 million jobs lost in a very flexible labor market, such as the United States, corresponded to women.
Fragility is frost and some economists already speak of shecession (a neologism that mixes she, she, and recession, recession) against the mancession of the financial crash of 2008. Everything sounds as contradictory as drowning in flames or burning in water.
You have to look for explanations.
The main reason, reflects Stefania Albanesi, professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh, is that “efforts to mitigate the effects of covid-19 have reduced many jobs in hospitality, leisure, personal care and health services, which are busy, above all, by women ”.
Now the key, underlines Alfonso Arellano, economist at BBVA Research, "is whether this blow is going to be sustained over time."
Well, the crisis has widened the gap.
And the woman cannot feel the bone that the plank throws into the dunghill.
Because the inequity against them is also a pandemic.
In Israel, for example, women are a minority in the world of work, but 56% have lost their jobs since the crisis began.
“Covid-19 has had a massive impact on inequality within countries and, even more so, in rich and developing economies.
It has also produced a massive setback in gender inequality, which shows that much more profound social change is needed, ”warns Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist of the IMF and professor of economics at Harvard University.
An electric current circulates through the Earth that conveys the feeling that women have lost a decade to what they have conquered.
And the reports published by investment banks, brokerage houses or consulting firms are read with the historical reliability of the Old Testament.
McKinsey estimates the value of the “women's economy” at $ 30 trillion (greater than any country in the world);
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) believes that if men and women had the same level of entrepreneurship, the economy of this blue sphere would grow between 2.5 and 5 trillion, and PwC advances that closing the wage gap could add two trillion.
Who believes this algebra today?
Perhaps it is necessary to resort to physics and not to mathematics.
Two forces in struggle
Centripetal and centrifugal forces clash.
“On the one hand, in many countries, including Spain, women suffered more from job losses during the pandemic, partly because of the jobs they held, and because of the increased responsibilities of caring for children during school closings. .
In the short term, gender equality at work has suffered a setback, ”says Matthias Doepke, professor of economics at Northwestern University, who published an essay on this topic in August.
"At the other extreme, the health crisis has increased the flexibility of the workplace and the ability to work from home when necessary."
This should help conciliation and joint responsibility in tasks.
"The sun rises, and the sun sets, and it hastens to return to the place where it rises," we read in the Old Testament.
Everything returns to the same place.
Econometrics is unnecessary: just look at other lives.
"For a woman, children have a brutal impact in terms of lost wages and hours worked," says Margarita Torre Fernández, professor of Sociology at the Carlos III University of Madrid.
Or family or career?
Because (real) stewardship is wheat winnowed in an age.
Preliminary work by the Complutense University of Madrid found that female researchers before the pandemic spent 6.2 hours a week working on their publications (where academic prestige is earned), but during the crisis they fell to 1.6 hours.
On the contrary, in men the time increased from 7 to 8.1 hours.
Who takes care of the home bordering their future work?
The answer is easy.
The problem hurts the fragile.
"In the United States, job losses were concentrated in low-wage employees, women and minorities," recalls Kristen Broady, dean of the Dillard University School of Business (New Orleans).
In any situation.
Even last November - when restrictions were lifted somewhat - unemployment among black women remained at 9%, 2.3% higher than the national average for that month.
"But inequity does not end in unemployment," warns the teacher.
“The socio-economic situation of black women in this country is impossible to contextualize without bearing in mind the marginalization of their racial identities within a minority that has historically fought oppression and submission when we speak of employment, home ownership, education, representation. politics and income ”.
In fact, the median wealth of single white men under the age of 35 ($ 22,640) is 224.2 times that of single black women ($ 101).
In geological terms, women live on a fault and at any moment can be plunged into a thousand fissures.
At Goldman Sachs they acknowledge that “they have not been able to find a relationship between more women in a company and a higher ROE (return on equity).
Nor, lower ”.
Identical destination for a job (Does Board Gender Diversity Improve Company Results ?, translation) published in 2017 by the Wharton Business School.
This sum gives zero or is non-existent.
Some analysts doubt the quality of the historical series used.
Others look for a speech that changes the Excel by the course of the days.
"Since 2009 we see that the share price of those companies that have incorporated more women on their boards have had a greater revaluation compared to those that are in the low range of gender parity in the management bodies", reflects Sharon Bell, Senior strategist at Goldman Sachs.
And he adds: "The performance was quite significant: between two or three percentage points a year."
Although these companies, he admits, did not have more profitability, earnings per share or sales growth.
But it was not inferior either.
It is urgent to save the queen.
In 2005, 9% of the directors of the Stoxx 600 index were women, last year 31%.
Many societies have not yet internalized that not closing the fault leads to a fall in GDP, less innovation, a skewed demographics and, above all, losing that half of the sky.
"And with her, her creativity, her sensitivity, her strong social conscience in matters such as the environment, the ability to work in a team (with less ego than men) or the ease of communicating and creating highly committed staff", details one high executive.
“It is not a matter of elucidating who is better at managing, but rather of remembering that men and women bring different points of view”, adds Ana Fernández, partner in charge of Diversity at KPMG in Spain.
However, the woman's perspective must be shielded.
Quite a few European countries have laws or quotas on their councils.
France introduced it in 2011 and today it has a presence of 40% of women;
In the United States, Schroders analyzes, “the slowness of progress is especially striking.
The percentage of female executives who join the boards of directors has increased by only 3.2% since 2012 ”, while in Spain, 31% of the decisive members of the Ibex 35 are“ them ”.
"I do not believe in mandatory quotas, I believe in merits," defended - at a meal without journalists - the president of one of the five largest companies in Spain before the pandemic.
This idea is buried in many masculinized councils, which need a renewal of age and thought.
"At 18, convictions are mountains from which we see life, at 45, caverns in which we hide," taught F. Scott Fitzgerald.
"Men protect each other in companies and women do not survive in male organizations", warns Margarita Torre Fernández.
Although demographic patterns appear that weave hope.
In 2000, Spanish women between 55 and 64 years of age who worked were very few: just 22%.
A percentage - Goldman Sachs accounts - that had remained almost unchanged in the last three decades.
Now the participation rate is 53%.
A higher retirement age and anti-discrimination legislation justify this entry.
However (there is always an adverb that subtracts what has been achieved), still being a “mother penalizes”.
A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that in the 12 years after having their first child, the remuneration of women falls by 33% per hour compared to men.
And to return to the same position you left after the pandemic is to catch a mirage.
In the third decade of the 21st century there is still a black powder, like that that stuck to the skin of the miners at the exit of the shaft, in the mentality of man.
When a worker accepts a traditionally feminine job —synthesizes the sociologist Torre Fernández— it is more likely that in the first moment that he can return to a masculine one.
Other times he rejects it, prefers unemployment.
"We have to consider non-financial incentives," says Paula England, a professor of sociology at New York University.
“Men often feel stigmatized for performing any role or job associated with women.
This is a part of sexism that is often not recognized.
Sexism is not just about men keeping women out of men's work.
It is also a cultural devaluation of everything associated with them, and a cultural idea that men are worth less if they assume some role related to women ”.
Although if we compare the health crisis with a horror movie, there are always scenes in which the scriptwriter gives the viewer a break.
During confinement, in the homes of two fathers with mothers who worked full time, the situation was experienced that men were much more involved in caring for their children, and the time that mothers had to dedicate to them decreased.
This idea — summed up — would collide with the experience of the days lived if it did not come from Claudia Goldin (New York, 74 years old), a pioneer in the analysis of the gender gap, the first woman to access the Harvard Economics department as a permanent worker and habitual candidate in the pools to win the Nobel.
"But there are reasons to believe that equity will not hold," he laments.
Back to the office
“As workplaces open up and lockdown rules are lifted, the question is who will go back to office, to business, to construction, especially if schools are fully open.
In the United States, schools have opened, closed, reopened, and closed again.
Who will take care of the housework?
We don't have much information, but what we handle indicates that it is more the mother than the father.
The lack of equity is not entirely due to social norms.
Also who brings the highest income in the return to the office, business, construction.
In this way, past inequalities can produce future inequalities ”.
Goldin always says that she did not discover the wage gap, "it was already in the Old Testament."
Perhaps in the Book of Isaiah: "We all wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, carry us away."
In the OECD, women earn on average 15% less than their male counterparts.
This figure is refined by Mónica Guardado, managing partner of the AFI School of Finance, "to 13% in Spain."
Percentages that have hardly changed in a decade.
Well, if women's participation in the labor market reduced their absence by 25% during 2025 - according to what was agreed by the G-20 - it could add a percentage point to the growth of the OECD's GDP between 2013 and 2025. But they are trapped.
They do at least 2.5 times more unpaid care and house work than men.
And the future melts to black.
"The pandemic is likely to increase the gender pay gap in Western societies in the months and years to come," predicts Caitlyn Collins, a professor of Sociology and Gender at Washington University in St. Louis.
Who cares for the family?
Despite everything, 69% of the wage gap in Europe, Eurostat argues, is unexplained.
It will not be due to lack of time.
The idea of equal pay comes from 1919, when it was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles.
A century ago.
But women continue to be that murmur of litter that the wind blows along the boulevards.
And they still have to justify what they are "worth" with figures.
In the next 40 years they will inherit two-thirds of the largest transfer in history (30 trillion dollars) and during 2025 they will have a financial wealth of 110 trillion.
Now - according to BCG - they control 32% of the world's assets, about $ 72 billion (58.7 billion euros).
Investment banks, managers and consultancies have found a new promised land for capital.
Only the FemTech universe (technology aimed at women) is a space valued at 50,000 million dollars (40,600 million euros).
“Last year we think that it moved 670 million dollars [they still have to adjust the calculations for the pandemic] and during 2024 it will exceed 1,000 million,” predicts Siddharth Shah, an expert in Health Transformation at the consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
However, that land is quicksand in finances.
Women represent only 15% of executive positions in banking, only 10% of those responsible for fund managers and barely manage between 1% and 3.5% of the world's assets under management.
They will inherit billions, but the present, and change, grows as slow for them as the rings of a redwood.
“Women are more likely to keep their money in cash and take medium or low risk in their investments.
In a world of low interest rates for quite some time, they will be at a disadvantage if they don't have enough stocks in their portfolio, ”describes Nannette Hechler-Fayd'herbe, Global Head of Economics and Research at Credit Suisse.
Another gap, that of investment.
Despite geology to the contrary, its time has come.
In March 2017, some 70 countries had a woman as head of state or government.
Feminism is, perhaps, the most important social transformation in recent decades, and young girls (and boys) have in Greta Thunberg (climate change activist), Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize and promoter of female education), Kamala Harris (Vice President of the United States), Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand) or Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) images with which to line the folders of the institute.
Women do not hold just half of the sky but almost all of our future.
Recipes to destroy the glass ceiling
Everything is learned in childhood;
the rest of life is memory.
Also the image of an invisible and insurmountable glass ceiling for women?
Is the lack of a stewardship partner a solid heaven?
Cristina Garmendia (San Sebastián, 1962), independent director of CaixaBank, Minister of Science and Innovation from 2008 to 2011, President of the Cotec Foundation for Innovation, draws on memories.
His father was born in 1915 and taught him the value of independence.
“He said that to be happy a person had to be free and that he would try by all means to be an independent person.
I appreciate it so much, he was a visionary ”.
—And did your husband [the engineer Rubén Celaya] understand it in that Spain that still knew Sovereign and was “a man's thing”?
—Of course, I would not have imagined having a partner with another culture.
Coexistence would have been almost impossible.
That is my reality. However, you know that it is not the majority reality.
“Not from the women of my generation.
I have many friends who have not studied a career for the education that they have received at home.
Different between men and women.
The glass ceiling in Spain is a structural problem ”, admits Garmendia.
"And the consequences are suffered by women, but also by men."
It sounds like that verse by César Vallejo: “Take care, Spain, of your own Spain!”.
The equation is "simple", there comes a time when women are forced to decide between family and work and men still earn more than they do.
The pay gap gobbles up your future and your memory.
Furthermore, the pandemic will increase this inequality.
Of the nearly 1,100,000 people aged 20 and over who left the labor market in the United States between August and September of last year, about 800,000 were women.
In the same period of time, only 216,000 men left their jobs.
Although other voices bring back memories with renewed hope.
"I have been married for more than 30 years, I have two children and the limits are sometimes not imposed by the man or our partner, but by ourselves due to lack of correlation between the personal and the family", defends María Luisa Jordá (Madrid, 1963), independent director of Bankinter and Merlin Properties.
"Sometimes you get involved in projects that need a lot of dedication, travel, a lot of effort and we leave those positions so as not to destabilize family life."
Someone will remember those words of Ortega y Gasset when he warned that Spaniards offer to life a heart shielded from rancor.
“Before, women sacrificed their professional field.
Now it is, in part, overcome, which does not mean that in practice there are situations of this type ”, reflects the counselor.
Without a doubt it is urgent to change.
That roof must be protective and not glass.
Carlos Martín, head of the Economic Cabinet of CC OO, launches proposals that jump like splinters of aluminum on a lathe.
Reserve places for women in masculinized university courses;
prohibit presenteeism, strongly sanctioning non-compliance with schedules;
subsidizing companies that promote women in the three years after childbirth or adoption;
reform the part-time contract to make it one that really allows work and personal life to be reconciled;
facilitate online training on demand during maternity leave and a teaching system that educates in feminist values from the beginning, that is, in gender equality.
Because childhood is the shared memory of men and women.