Laura Liswood, Secretary General at the Council of Women World Leaders, kicked off the conference this morning, eliciting laughs from the audience with the above statements. This conference, in her view, is a call to action--and action has already begun.
During the breakfast this morning, as I sat with some of the senior women from some of the leading financial and banking institutions from around the world, discussions about the gender gap in the business world were already in full swing.
On the surface, women have a lot to be optimistic about right now. A slew of articles, including Hanna Rosin's "The End of Men" article in the Atlantic this past summer, the Washington Post's article on women making six-figure salaries and the Economist's first issue of the year, proclaiming "We did it!" paints a picture in which women are actually doing much better than ever before--that we are doing well, in fact, in comparison to men.
Unfortunately, this is not really the case, as the facts show. Only 2% of Board chairmanships are held by women (in the U.S.). Women in the U.S. comprise approximately 15% of corporate boards. Full time women managers still make 81 cents on the dollar as compared to their male counterparts. And as Saadia Zahidi just pointed out in her sneak peak at the 2010 Global Gender Gap Report, at the rate at which we're going, we will reach the year 4000 before we reach gender parity as indicated by the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index (measuring political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment and economic participation).
I'm pretty sure we cannot wait 1990 years.