Research by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has revealed that women are increasingly defining the entrepreneurial economy and will create 70% of the global growth in income at the household level over the next five years.
The research – which surveyed 12 000 women in 22 countries – found that women spend over 70% of consumer dollars worldwide. The study also found that women account for half of university students across the globe. The findings led CNN to declare this October that, “the largest growing economic force in the world isn't China or India – it is women”.
Despite these gains, Michael Silverstein, a partner at BCG, says that women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men do. And the ranks of female CEOs are still thin. "Most of the big companies are worked by men, for men," he says.
Dr Marjolijn Dijksterhuis, director of the Women in Leadership programme running at the UCT Graduate School of Business in May and July next year, argues that much needs to be done in order help women break through the glass ceiling that exists in many organisations.
“This increasing centrality of women to driving growth is not reflected at the senior level of business and government, where women are increasingly present but still the minority,” says Dijksterhuis.
“Women have a bigger role to play at the level where executive decisions are made."
The GSB Women in Leadership programme is one of the few programmes in the country to target women at this level, and it has been designed to facilitate the jump to senior leadership by grooming proven women managers to become contemporary leaders able to deal with the complex and ever-changing business world of today.
In fact, Dijksterhuis maintains that the shifting business landscape and the growing calls for something other than “business as usual” in the midst of the fall-out from this year’s economic downturn could further count in women’s favour as they look to break in to more senior positions.
“The increasing complexity and uncertainty of business in a globalised world are waking us up to the limitations of traditional management paradigms. It is becoming clearer that the ability to lead people through change and toward cooperation and innovation has become essential to the success of organisations, and companies are now looking for leaders who can inspire that change.
“I believe women have a lot to offer in terms of these more people-oriented demands,” she says.