03/19/2012 06:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Is the Impact of All This Data?

March is a great time for zeroing in on the most important questions facing women worldwide. Between Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, there is no shortage of convenings/conferences/conversations in which some of smartest women I know are contemplating the most complex challenges we face. I, for one, don’t know if I’ve ever been so busy. Last week, alone, I moderated five panels in five days!

In any case, I’ll be sharing each day of this week an insight or a question that emerged from my conversations. Won’t you weigh in with your own thoughts? After all, we’re all living our way into the answers together.

My first question is: What is the impact of all this data?

Every year at this time, I end up with a foot high stack of reports on my desk—all of them representing the important work of analyzing the status of women in a variety of contexts. Apparently, every metric of our lives is of high interest to everyone from the World Bank to the White House to the World Economic Forum. Experts are analyzing and compiling. Advocates are making the business case for everything from educating girls to having women on corporate boards. And we’re discussing it all at panels, conferences, and summits.


I’m left wondering—to what ends? By many indicators, women are doing quite well—our graduation rates are up, we’ve never controlled so much wealth, we’ve never been so entrepreneurial, and yet in some very fundamental ways, we’re still falling way behind. The wage and leadership gaps still exist in every sector. We actually have fewer women in political office. And if you look at the top tier of almost every profession, women are all but missing.

Which just leaves me wondering—given that we’ve analyzed ourselves to death and made the business case for gender equality and women’s leadership till we’re all blue in the face—and exhausted from reading the reports…what do we do next? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s thoughts...