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Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women's Leadership

Global thought leaders explored innovative approaches to achieving gender parity in leadership around the world with the launch of the report Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women’s Leadership.

Date & Time

May. 15, 2018
9:30am – 11:30am ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Get Directions


Discover new tools to achieve gender parity in public service leadership around the world in a groundbreaking new report from the Women in Public Service Project.


Where are women in governments around the world? How much power do they hold? How did they get to their positions of leadership? The Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index is a first-of-its-kind project that harnesses the the power of data to answer these three key questions, providing a multi-dimensional snapshot of women's public service leadership in 75 countries.

Global thought leaders explored innovative approaches to achieving gender parity in leadership around the world with the launch of the report Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women’s Leadership.

Selected Quotes

Dana Bash:

“This is special, to have a woman heading this amazing center, the Woodrow Wilson Center; to have this amazing study, which is really remarkable – slightly depressing – but remarkable, because we need to know the stats and the data; to have this conversation, and to really stir things up.”

Jane Harman:

“How can we expect the best foreign policy decisions, or any policy decisions for that matter, with only half the population represented at the table?”

“We know women’s leadership matters. Women leaders have a positive impact on governance, economic growth, equality and inclusive sustainable development.”

“We have complete data measuring women’s leadership across 75 countries---more coming soon--and today we are making public the first report---that’s this report that you all need to have and memorize---measuring the pathways to women’s leadership.”

“WPSP has launched the world’s most comprehensive resource in women’s leadership in public service. With data points for over 195 countries and territories, assessing women’s leadership in executive, legislative, judicial, civil service and national security positions worldwide.”

“In an era of fake news, this is the real deal.”

Michele Flournoy:

“You have to find your own style of contribution."

“You have to be absolutely excellent, over-prepared, so there is no question why you’re there. And you have to also be willing to stand up for your voice. When someone interrupts the woman, you have to say, “Excuse me, I’d like to finish.”

“If you have a moment of descent, you have to find the courage to speak up. When all the male heads turn and look at you, and are like “Why are you speaking? Why are you not in the consensus?” So, it does take a certain amount of fortitude.”

“Diverse leadership teams make better decisions and oversee higher performing organizations.”

Carla Hayden:

“You have to be very concrete and intentional and specific about what you want. And that’s something as a female in positions, you hesitate, or you might think in mentoring young women about not being afraid to be definite and secure in what you do.”

“It’s really empowering women to be themselves, to be authentic, and not be so upset to show weakness.’

“When you think about the pay and equity with education, and what we pay teachers, our most important group really, when you think about the future and what they are paid, part of that has to do with it is a feminized profession. And so, we’re working on that, in general, with all of those traditionally feminized professions.”

Gwen Young:

“This Index is the first of its kind, because it’s the first to measure women’s leadership across all five sectors of government. So not just women presidents, and the women in parliament and legislature, but women in public administration, the judiciary, [and] national security.”

“We know with data, not only can you measure, but you can innovate, you can drive change, and you can find solutions.”

“We often don’t think about public administration … which implements the laws, which in some countries is the safer or ‘better’ place for women to work … but also that controls a lot of the GDP and what goes on in a country. So this is incredibly important.”

“Not only do you have to break the ceilings, but you have to break the walls. You have to get women at every decision-making table.”

“This has been a global effort built off partnerships and platforms … part of what we want to do is continue to build this global platform of people that are committed to women’s leadership in government, committed to women’s leadership across all sectors, and figure out exactly what it’s going to take to move the needle.”

Nadia Younes:

“We have to get rid of some of the myths. The myth of meritocracy, the myth that it’s going to take 217 years, the myth that this has to be slow.”

Ayesha Molino:

“What does this mean to advance gender parity, particularly in the public sector? What we have found is that three things are essential. First, you have to have a top-down commitment that gender diversity inclusion, including the willingness to devote meaningful resources to the cause.”

“Why does diversity matter to a company like us? As my CEO Jim Murren would say, ‘First and foremost, it is because it is the right thing to do.’”

Stephanie Gore:

“So, in a nutshell, I think there are some programs that other companies can use and model, like KPMG, the other big four as well, that will help retain women and give them options to opt-in, and remain in, instead of opting-out of the workforce.”

Ambassador Lars Gert Lose:

“We have to look at the basic structures in our society that would actually enable women to get out there and work.”

“It is important to keep this on this agenda for countries that think they do well. Denmark has done well for many years, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

“Involving more men in gender equality, the ‘HeForShe’ thinking, that is an important cross-cutting issue on this agenda.”

Ambassador Jennifer Loten:

“The idea of culture, the culture of equality … how do you create and promote that? Some of the best policies in the world will only work if you have ways to ensure there is a penetration of understanding.”

“An important culture change that I think we have to make…We have to stop thinking about our kids as a barrier or an anchor… they are a source of inspiration and energy, they are the reason that we go to work and the reason we come home at the end of the day. It should not be something that detracts from our vision of ourselves as leaders.”

“I think we need have to stop asking ourselves whether or not [the 50x50 vision is attainable] and just get on with it.”

Patrick Keuleers:

“Gender parity in public administration, in my view, is important for three main reasons. First, barriers to women’s advancement in public service undermine the fundamental principles of equality opportunity and social justice in society. Second, without a critical mass of women in public administration, a government is not tapping into the full potential of a country's capacity, workforce and creativity. Third, the public administration affects the lives of millions of people, half of whom—if not more—are women.”

“Research shows that gender parity in policy-making and decision-making enhances the effectiveness and responsiveness of administrative agencies.”

“We know that more women engaging in the peace processes leads to the sustainability of the peace agreements.”

Katja Iversen:

“Girls and women are powerhouses, and they are critical in powering progress for everybody - especially when they are in leadership positions.”

“If we really want to see the change that we need to see, we need to shift investments, we need to shift the narrative, and we need to get that data and stories into play.”

“Gender equality is in the water, we just need to get people to drink that water.”

Shabana Azmi:

“I believe that men and women are different…not better, not worse, but different. And that difference needs to be included in the global dialogue that is taking place.”

“Often times, education reinforces gender divides. It is very important that when you talk about education, you talk about gender-just education.”

Photo: UN Women via Flickr

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