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From disparity to parity: Women’s strides in leadership and compensation

Blog Date
May 30,

Gender diversity in leadership is crucial for fostering innovative and inclusive workplaces. However, the persistent issue of pay disparity between men and women continues to undermine efforts toward equality. Addressing this disparity is a matter of fairness and is vital for economic and organizational growth.

In India, women constitute a mere 14% of leadership roles in business, despite forming 48% of the population. Globally, only 29% of senior management roles are held by women. These statistics highlight a significant underrepresentation of women in leadership positions across various sectors.

While there has been progress over the decades, such as increased female participation in education and the workforce, barriers remain. These include deep-seated cultural biases and structural impediments within organizations. Historically, women have faced obstacles like limited access to professional networks, lack of mentorship, and discriminatory practices in hiring and promotions.

Factors Contributing to Pay Disparity

Societal norms and cultural expectations play a significant role in shaping career trajectories. In many cultures, including India’s, women are often expected to prioritize family responsibilities over career advancement. This societal pressure can lead to career interruptions and part-time work, contributing to lower earnings and slower career progression.

Corporate policies often inadvertently contribute to pay disparities. Recruitment biases, inequitable promotion practices, and subjective performance evaluations disadvantage women. For example, women are less likely to be promoted to senior roles due to unconscious biases that question their leadership capabilities or commitment to the job.

Impact of Pay Disparity

The economic impact of pay disparity is profound. It reduces the overall earning potential of women, which in turn affects their families and the broader economy. According to a McKinsey report, closing the gender pay gap in India could add $700 billion to the GDP by 2025.

Pay disparity also has significant personal and professional repercussions. Women earning less than their male counterparts often experience reduced motivation and job satisfaction. This can lead to higher turnover rates and deter women from pursuing leadership roles, further perpetuating the cycle of inequality.

Case Studies of Women Leaders

Women leaders often face unique challenges such as balancing work and family life, overcoming gender biases, and proving their competence in male-dominated fields. Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, frequently spoke about the need to “bring your whole self to work” and navigate the complexities of leadership while addressing gender biases.

Despite these challenges, many women have broken through barriers to achieve leadership roles. For instance, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the founder of Biocon, has become a leading figure in the biotechnology industry through her perseverance and vision.

Another remarkable success story is that of Arundhati Bhattacharya, the former Chairperson of the State Bank of India. She became the first woman to lead India’s largest commercial bank, steering it through significant transformations and digital advancements.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, the Chairperson of HCL Technologies, is another inspiring leader. She is the first woman to lead a listed IT company in India and has driven the company’s strategic direction and innovation.

Strategies to Address Pay Disparity

Government and corporate policies can play a pivotal role in addressing pay disparity. Implementing pay transparency, enforcing equal pay legislation, and mandating gender diversity reporting are essential steps. Countries like Iceland have made significant strides with their pay equality laws, setting an example for other nations to follow.

Companies can promote gender equality through various initiatives. Mentorship programs, diversity training, and flexible work arrangements can help create a supportive environment for women. Google, for instance, has introduced initiatives aimed at promoting gender diversity, including unconscious bias training and mentorship programs.

Role of Education and Mentorship

Education is a powerful tool for empowering women. Programs focused on leadership skills, negotiation techniques, and financial literacy can equip women with the necessary tools to pursue leadership roles and negotiate fair pay. Universities like the Manipal University Jaipur and Manipal Academy of Higher Education offer online as well as offline MBAs with new-age electives and specializations. 

Mentorship and networking are crucial for career advancement. Women benefit greatly from guidance and support from experienced leaders. Organizations can facilitate mentorship programs and networking opportunities to help women build connections and gain insights into navigating their careers.


Addressing pay disparity and promoting gender diversity in leadership roles are essential for creating equitable workplaces. By implementing policy changes, and corporate initiatives, and fostering education and mentorship, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and prosperous future. Organizations and policymakers must take actionable steps to ensure women have equal opportunities to lead and thrive in their careers.


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

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