Why it's vital to close the female leadership gap

What you need to know:

  • Countries with a greater proportion of women as top decision-makers in legislatures have lower levels of income inequality. 
  • Last year Kenya ranked 109 out of 153 countries in in the Global Gender Gap index 2020. The country has almost closed 67 per cent of its overall gender gap.
  • Past global studies have found that there is a positive relationship between diversity (age, gender, race, etc.) in company leadership and management and performance.

As the world marks International Women’s Day Nation Newsplex takes stock of sectors where women have made progress in the struggle for equality in leadership and explores the gaps that remain.

Below are facts on the status of women in leadership in Kenya in different sectors sourced from the National Assembly, World Economic Forum, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Nairobi Securities Exchange, the Engineers Board of Kenya and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, World and Dentists Council.

C-suite

Past global studies have found that there is a positive relationship between diversity (age, gender, race, etc.) in company leadership and management, and performance. Despite this revelation, it is lonely in the C-suite for women in Kenya with overall representation in boards and senior executive posts tipped in favour of men.

  • Only eight of 63 chief executive officers or managing directors of companies listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange are women. An even smaller number, four, chair the board of directors in the firms.

Stem

Women are grossly under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers despite solid gains in the share of females graduating from university in the fields.

  • Only one in three doctors is a woman. Female doctors constitute a fifth of specialist doctors, e.g. cardiologists, neurosurgeons and gynaecologists.
  • There are 167 registered consulting and professional engineers who are women compared to 2,418 men.
  •  Just three per cent of over 800 aircraft maintenance engineers are women.
  • One in 10 pilots in Kenya is a woman (air transport, commercial private and student).

Judiciary

Women judges are well represented in the magistrates’ courts but they are in the minority in the superior courts.

  • Over half (269 out of 503) of magistrates are women. However, a deeper look at the figures reveal that pendulum swings in the opposite direction among chief and senior magistrates with 43 per cent (58 out of 135) of them being women.
  • Two out of the seven Supreme Court judges (before former Chief Justice David Maraga retired) were women. There are 12 male and seven female judges in the Court of Appeal while there are 42 male judges compared to 40 female judges in the High Court.

Executive

Kenya has met the two-thirds gender rule at the Cabinet level but falls short at the principal secretary rank.

  •  Seven out of 21 cabinet secretaries are women in conformity with the two-thirds gender rule while just a fifth of principal secretaries are women.
  • A fifth of the principal secretaries are women.
  •  In the counties two out of 46 governors (Nairobi has no governor) are women.

Legislature

On September 21 last year, Chief Justice David Maraga advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament because neither of the national legislative houses had enough women lawmakers. The High Court soon after suspended the advisory until a full hearing on the case.

Countries with a greater proportion of women as top decision-makers in legislatures have lower levels of income inequality, according to Women Deliver, an international gender equality advocacy organisation. 

  • Twenty-one out of 67 senators are women, which is just short of the two-thirds gender rule. Only three of the women were elected to the senate while 18 were nominated
  • One in five members of parliament in Kenya is a woman.
  • Although the county assemblies meet the gender parity law, mostly through nominations of women, just one of 47 county assembly majority leaders is a woman while just four women are speakers.

Academia

Although the share of women (47 per cent) in wage employment in the education sector is almost the same as that of men (53 per cent), they are under-represented in the top ranks of university leadership.

  • Nine out of 73 public and private universities and university constituent colleges vice chancellors and principals are women. 
  • About 287 female academic university staff were professors or associate professors compared to 1,313 males in 2018. At the same time one in three universities academic staff with a PhD in Kenya is a woman.

Gender gap

Last year Kenya ranked 109 out of 153 countries in in the Global Gender Gap index 2020. The country has almost closed 67 per cent of its overall gender gap.


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