Italian national study

Executive summary

Women are still underrepresented in economic decision-making throughout Europe and Italy ranks among the worst performers, with wide gender gaps in employment, wages, and careers.

This situation is due to cultural factors and the lack of services for conciliation. There is a huge difference between the North and South of the country (as women employment and unemployment rates show). Even if, the interviews have not showed relevant differences between conventional and social enterprises, considering the career paths, the gap between Italy and European average is still high.

Social enterprises have a very high presence of women, also because the most important sectors they work on, are social services, health and education, areas where women work more. A lot of social cooperatives organize services for conciliation and offer them to conventional enterprises.

Talking about careers, it is difficult to make a true comparison; the difference is found in the political representatives. However, Italy is experiencing a significant revolution in female leadership. A recent law has established to increase representation of females on boards of publicly-listed and state-owned companies. The Golfo-Mosca law requires that boards (executives and non-executives) of publicly listed companies and state-owned companies have at least 33% of either gender by 2015 and sets a target of 20% for the transition period. In the event of non-compliance, a progressive warning system can culminate in the eventual dissolution of the board. So, this law provides a unique opportunity for Italy. While traditionally a poor performer on issues of gender equity, the new law has the potential to make Italy an example of policy-driven gender equality for the rest of Europe.

In the end, there is a large consensus in Italy and throughout Europe that gender equality is not only a matter of rights, but also a key economic issue. Female employment is a major engine of world development and growth and the presence of women in decision-making positions may be itself a key driver of performance and business. Growth and economic well‐being are top priorities in all European countries and a virtuous circle may begin if more women work and are promoted to top positions. Given this, policy initiatives which promote better gender equality in economic decision-making have the potential for broad and deep impact both within and across generations.