So far, the numbers have been pathetic. But of course, so are the numbers in the ranks of the “strategic partners” who dominate the event. The banking industry was always macho and since the crisis, it now has even fewer women in management. Northern Europe takes the issue seriously but outside of there, few countries (the US included) have made progress.
At Davos, the world’s most powerful men (and a few women) broker multimillion-pound deals behind the scenes of the conferences. The forum’s black-tie dinners, cocktail parties and other less formal encounters are the ultimate networking events and those present follow the old “contacts lead to contracts” motto.
But so far, relatively few women have benefited from this high-level schmoozing. Women made up only 9-15% of those present between 2001 and 2005. Progress has been made – last year 17% were women – but Zahidi insists they can do much better.
“Closing gender gaps has been an important concern at the World Economic Forum for the last decade,” she said.