The quality of leadership in the two most powerful nations in the world matters.
Not only do China and the United States of America govern more than 1.6 billion of the world’s 7 billion citizens, but their economic power influences global growth and, increasingly, human development in many of the world’s nations.
And with a new set of ambitious Global Goals to achieve by 2030, including ending poverty, preventable child deaths and malnutrition, the world will need its very best talent at the helm of governments, businesses, universities and civil society.
In this context, the results of the 2016 Motherhood+Public Power Index can only be described as deeply disturbing.
At this point in time, just 23 of the 320 most powerful positions in both China and the United States are held by leaders who are also mothers. That’s a rate of 7%.
Mothers do slightly better in the United States, holding 16 of the top 160 jobs (10%), compared to mothers in China, who hold just 7 of the 160 most powerful positions (4%).
This is in stark contrast to the proportion of leaders who are also fathers – more than 90% in China and more than 80% in America.
Of the four sectors measured by the Motherhood+Public Power Index, universities and governments perform best in promoting leaders who are also mothers into the top jobs. This is due to the larger number of leading US universities led by women who are also mothers, and to the small but growing representation of women in US governments.
In contrast, the business and philanthropic sectors record the lowest representation of mothers. There are only 4 mothers among the top 80 CEOs in China and the US, and only 3 mothers among the top 80 Chinese and American philanthropists.
The conclusion could not be clearer. Mothers are dramatically underrepresented in the halls of power in China and the United States, while fathers are dramatically overrepresented.
If China and the United States had the same proportion of mothers leading their most powerful institutions as they do in the population (40%), we would expect to see 58 more women who were also mothers in the top 160 jobs in China and another 48 mothers in the equivalent roles in the United States.
The pictures below tell the story…