What We Know About Women in the Economy Today

StockPhotoDeskResearch from the World Bank, the United Nations, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and others demonstrate that the real drivers of the economy are women—as business leaders, employees, consumers and entrepreneurs. Investing in women can yield a significant "gender dividend," according to a 2011 Deloitte report urging the public and private sectors to reap this benefit by investing in women and bringing them into leadership positions.[1]

Below are some of the most important statistics available on women in the economy:

  • Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1-2 percent of the property.[2]
  • Women and girls suffer disproportionally from the burden of extreme poverty- they make up 70 percent of the 1.5 billion people living on less than a dollar a day.[3]
  • Outside of the agricultural sector, in both developed and developing countries, women still average less than 78 percent of the wages given to men for the same work.[4]
  • Globally, women represent 49.6 percent of the total population, but only 40.8 percent of the total workforce in the formal sector.[5]
  • Closing the gap between male and female employment rates would have huge implications for the global economy, boosting American gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 9 percent, Eurozone GDP by 13 percent and Japanese GDP by 16 percent.[6]
  • Women dominate the global marketplace by controlling US$20 trillion in consumer spending and that number is predicted to rise to US$28 trillion by 2014.[7]

Below are some of the most important statistics available on women as business owners:

  • There are approximately 187 million women entrepreneurs worldwide[8] who own at least some of 32-39 percent of all private businesses in the formal economy.[9]
  • More women than men entrepreneurs introduce innovations (new products and services) in developed economies.[10]
  • In societies where women perceive they have the capabilities for entrepreneurship, there is a greater likelihood women will also perceive entrepreneurial opportunities. However, fewer women (47.7 percent) than men (62.1 percent) believe they have the capabilities to start and run businesses.[11]
  • According to preliminary research conducted by WEConnect International, women-owned businesses earn less than 1 percent of the money spent on vendors by large corporations and governments.


[1] http://www.deloitte.com/investinginwomen?id=theme_gender

[2] UNICEF: Gender Equality – The Big Picture, 2007

[3] http://unwomen-nc.org.sg/gender_issues_datasheet_1.shtml

[4] UNIFEM, 2000 ???

[5] World Bank Group “Women, Business and the Law” 2011 http://wbl.worldbank.org

[6] World Bank, "Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere” 2003

[7] Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre, “The Female Economy”, HBR, September 2009

[8] Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2010 Report

[9] http://www1.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/a4774a004a3f66539f0f9f8969adcc27/G20_Women_Report.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

[10] Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2010 Report

[11] Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2010 Report