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Silicon Valley could gain $25 billion by narrowing gender gap

TechCrunch TechCrunch 7/04/2016 Megan Rose Dickey

Research has shown, time and time again, that diversity is good for business and the economy. If Silicon Valley can close the gender gap, the tech-heavy area could gain $25 billion (a 9% increase) in gross domestic product by 2025, according to a new McKinsey report. In San Francisco, the city could drive roughly $45 billion in 2025 GDP.

Statistically compared to other metropolitan areas, Silicon Valley could improve in overall gender parity. Silicon Valley has a gender parity score of .57 compared to .69 in San Francisco and .61 in New York, according to McKinsey.

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    California's state parity score
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    Silicon Valley's city parity score
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    San Francisco's city parity score
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That said, Silicon Valley is the best performing MSA in California when it comes to single mothers, meaning that is has relatively few single mothers compared to other areas. San Francisco is also a top performer around single mothers, but has a significant opportunity to increase the number of women in the labor force. Right now, there are just 80 women for every 100 men in the San Francisco workforce.

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In order to determine these scores, McKinsey looked across ten indicators: labor force participation rate, professional and technical jobs, representation in leadership and managerial positions, time spent in unpaid care work, single mothers, incidence of teen pregnancy, political representation, violence against women, maternal mortality and higher education.

At the California state level, closing the gender gap could drive $272 billion in GDP by 2025. California could achieve this from higher female participation in the labor force, narrowing the gap between the number of men and women who work part-time and full-time, and getting women in employed in more productive sectors.

Achieving full gender parity, where women participate in the economy at the same level as men, California could drive $648 billion in 2025 GDP. At a national level, the U.S. could add $2.1 trillion in 2025 GDP by closing the gender gap in work. Gender parity in the U.S. would boost that figure to $4.3 trillion.

All of these stats, of course, are best-case scenarios that are highly dependent upon actions local government and big businesses take. The goal with this report, lead author Kweilin Elligrud told TechCrunch in an email, is twofold. One is for the government, businesses and nonprofits to take action around gender equality. In the report, McKinsey lays out several potential interventions to effect change, including providing financial incentives and support, creating economic opportunities and implementing laws, policies and regulations. It also notes how companies like Google and Netflix have set best practices to build upon in unpaid care work. At Google, when the company increased paid leave from 12 to 18 weeks, the rate at which new mothers left fell by 50%.

The second goal is to “bring more people to the table to talk about this and act on this,” Elligrud said. “It is not just the right thing to do for half the population, it is the smart economic thing to do.”

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