"Women On Top"Late last year the Global Gender Gap report was released. This report by the World Economic Forum covers 92% of the world population and delivers some surprising findings. Of the 130 countries studied, 87 have narrowed the gender gap since 2007. Norway, Finland and Sweden hold the top three positions, with USA coming in at 27th.

The report examines the economy, politics, education and health – but progress in the first two areas is much lower than in the last two. For while women are increasingly as healthy and as educated as men, overall, women’s contribution to the economy and their political empowerment is lagging far behind. It seems, on the surface, that addressing the role of women in the economy and opening both political and economic structures to their participation would have a significant impact on the world economy – not to mention the personal impacts and local economic advantages that may also ensue. As the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, suggests:

Greater representation of women in senior leadership positions within governments and financial institutions is vital not only to find solutions to the current economic turmoil, but to stave off such crises in future.

However, the report also indicates that women’s economic activities are the first areas to come under pressure during economic uncertainty. And as the latest report, Global Risks 2009, indicates, we may see an acceleration of these conditions in the next 12 months.

But while the trend seems to be shifting across the majority of countries, what is your experience? Have you noticed a change? Is there a different culture in your workplace? How do you think this will play out in the current economic environment?

Nina Nets It Out: Even small changes in the percentages shown in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report can have massive impacts on the lives of thousands. But will the good work of recent years be swept away amidst economic uncertainty? Now is certainly the time to put our best efforts forward – and gender should be no hindrance to participation.