The US economy would be $1.6trillion larger if women had the same better opportunities at work, new research has revealed.
A study published this week by Standard & Poor's found the US could boost its GDP up to 10 per cent in the coming decades by encouraging women into jobs in traditionally male-dominated fields.
Researchers said 44 per cent of American women were participating in the workforce in 1972, a similar rate to that of Norway.
However, by 2016, the world’s largest economy had fallen behind - around 65 per cent of Norwegian women were employed, compared to just half of their US counterparts.
Standard & Poor's estimates if women in America had taken up work at the same rate, the US economy would today be $1.6trillion bigger, an extra $5,000 for every person in the country.
The report said: “Increasing entry and retention of more women to the American workforce, particularly those professions traditionally filled by men, represents a substantial opportunity for growth of the world’s principal economy.
“On top of giving the US economy a sorely needed shot in the arm, increased labour participation among women would have knock-on effects that, while perhaps not quantifiable, are no less significant.
“For example, women are more likely than men to invest a large proportion of their household income in their children’s education - and so, as those children grow up, their improved status benefits society and the economy.”
The study said encouraging more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields would be the best way to boost their earnings and narrow the gender pay gap.
It read: “How many Alberta Einsteins or Carla Sagans in STEM have we missed because we didn’t offer opportunities for them to develop their skills?
“A concerted effort to create such openings for girls to explore fields normally considered to be the boys’ domain would help not only further narrow the gender wage gap.”
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