On the eve of International Women's Day on March 8, a survey by employment services company ManpowerGroup has identified what it considers a "huge problem": only 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, which includes Wal-Mart, Apple and Berkshire Hathaway, have one women or less on their board of directors. Meanwhile, just 5 percent of the Fortune 500 have female CEOs,
"If you look at it, the rate, it is not increasing. In 1998, 11 percent of corporate officers in the Fortune 500 were women and that percentage rose to 16 percent in 2005," said to Mara Swan, executive vice-president of global strategy and talent at ManpowerGroup.
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"But it has stayed the same since 2005, so here we are, nine years later, and we are still at the same rate," she said.
The stagnating growth of women in executive and management position is not limited to the Fortune 500, as women in senior management positions in the U.K. fell from roughly 11 percent in 1995 to 7.5 percent in 2011, according to the OECD.
The information and communications technology (ICT) highlights this more than most: Less than 30 percent of the workforce is female and the number of female computing graduates has been dropping in Europe for years, according to the World Economic Forum.
This part of the economy is "seriously unbalanced" the forum said - as now just 9 in every 100 European app developers are female.
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"Women are particularly under-represented in managerial and decision-making positions. Only 19 percent of ICT bosses are women - much lower than the 45 percent frequently achieved in other sectors," said Neelie Kroes, vice-president and commissioner for the digital agenda at WEF said in a statement.
One of the key problems is that firms fail to offer work solutions that help women strike a work-life balance said Swan.
"What companies are offering is not what women want," said Swan.
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"Standard work models are inflexible and need to be updated so women can strike a successful work-life balance. The majority of women (65 percent) say flexible work options are important but only 28 percent of employers provide them," she said.
At the same time, the gender gap in unpaid work is still "huge" showing "men are still struggling to lift much more than a finger from time to time in some countries" new data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows.
"Greater gender equality in working hours is not just about more women in full-time employment. It is also about more men reducing their long hours in paid work," the OECD said.
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Turkish women spend the most time doing unpaid work, such as housework or shopping, at 377 minutes, more than double the time spent by Norwegian men (180) who are the most helpful males in Europe.
Mexican women spend 373 minutes a day, this compares to Mexican men, who spend 113 minutes spent on unpaid work on average of and Japanese men who spend only 62 minutes, the least of all.
"Over the last 50 years, women decreased their hours of unpaid work as they increased the hours of paid work. Men have been doing more housework and child care, but they didn't take up the slack so gender inequalities in the use of time are still large in all countries," the group said.