Italy and the 2008 Gender Gap Report: real or apparent progress?

Last year I commented on Italy’s deservedly low position in the rankings of relative gender equality produced by the World Economic Forum. This year, the 2008 Gender Gap Report tells us that we are no longer in position number 84: we have jumped up to number 67. We are still quite far from other European and mostly Catholic countries such as Poland (49), Spain (17), France (15) and Ireland (8).

This year’s data on Italy, states the report,

show very significant improvement in the percentage of women among legislators, senior officials and managers, members of parliament and in ministerial level positions.

One would have to look beyond the raw numbers to get a sense of the real impact of those ministerial level positions, I would guess; but we’ll leave that to the next refinement of the ranking metodology.

It is also true that we have more businesswomen in position of power this year; yet, we have no way to know where Marina Berlusconi (who recently joined the board of Mediobanca) and Emma Marcegaglia (who became head of Confindustria, and is the only Italian in the Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch“) would be today if it weren’t for their fathers’ success.

And hopefully those women legislators and members of parliament will think about crafting and passing some of those laws that the rest of us need before we can feel that Italy offers true equality of opportunity, regardless of gender.

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