April 24, 2006

A friend emailed me this article from the Economist, which states right off the bat, “The future of the world economy lies increasingly in female hands.”

It’s a barge load of statistics about women, work, and money that all underscore the same maxim: When a country or family or company does right by women, everyone wins. Equality works wonders.

Some of the points were old news to me, like this one:

…There is strong evidence that educating girls boosts prosperity. It is probably the single best investment that can be made in the developing world. Not only are better educated women more productive, but they raise healthier, better educated children.

Some of the other findings surprised me. For instance, I assumed that countries with higher female labor participation would have lower fertility rates. Not necessarily so. The decline in fertility has been greatest in several countries where female employment is low.

 Now, let’s talk pursestrings and the flow of dough:

Surveys suggest that women make perhaps 80% of consumers’ buying decisions–from health care and homes to furniture and food.

No wonder advertisers are clawing to reach the mommy market! And it turns out that women make better investors than men, too.

A survey by Digital Look, a British financial website, found that women consistently earn higher returns than men. A survey of American investors by Merrill Lynch examined why women were better at investing. Women were less likely to “churn” their investments; and men tended to commit too much money to single, risky ideas. Overconfidence and overtrading are a recipe for poor investment returns.

And if the glass ceiling of senior management were ever to dissolve, the suits up top might be pleasantly surprised:

…a study by Catalyst, a consultancy, found that American companies with more women in senior management jobs earned a higher return on equity than those with fewer women at the top. This might be because mixed teams of men and women are better than single-sex groups at solving problems and spotting external threats.

It’s hard being this awesome, ain’t it?