The economic argument for women on boards

CityEye-sqLate last year, the UK’s Office for National Statistics announced unpaid care and housework would be included in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) calculations, classed as “unpaid GDP”.

Fittingly it is the London School of Economics where a Swedish economist, Katrine Marcal points out, the “invisible labour” that remains largely the women’s realm, is absent from free market economic thought.

In her recent book, Who Cooked Adams Smith’s Dinner, she says

“The truth is, we are all dependent and therefore society’s task cannot be to separate those who nourish from those who consume. There is nothing in a woman’s biology that makes her better suited to unpaid housework. But biological essentialism is helpful for free market economics. If women spend time caring anyway, why pay them as though it’s a professional, learned skill?

Today, our economics focuses on self-interest and excludes all other motivations. It disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking. It insists that if women are paid less, then that’s because their labour is worth less – how could it be otherwise? Economics has told us a story about how the world works and we have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.”

How interesting that there is a serious economic argument for women’s equality. Erica Jong, one of the 60’s feminists says what is needed is political and financial power. But the only way, we will achieve these aims, is through more women in positions of power. More women on boards, and more women in politics at all levels.

Martha Lane Fox Baroness.

“But the top women in the city still are few by comparison with the men. To believe in not enough talented women for boards and in business, is both sexist and patronising. There are hundreds of great women out there”.

We need more women at the top. Executive positions. How is it that people, both women and men, believe that women are a minority interest.

That women are not clever enough, experienced, expert enough to run either the International Monetary Fund, or West Ham football club.

“Historical oppression of women is seen as a case of evolutionary biology, rather than a systemic worldwide injustice. That women globally were increasingly participating in the workforce, until the global recession, then took the hit, shows that progress in economic equality is still at the behest of historic structural oppression, snapping at the heels of women’s emancipation whenever times get tough.”

We most fittingly conclude with David Cameron’s words “Where the potential and perspective of women are locked out of the decisions that shape a society, that society remains stunted and underachieving”.


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