Chapter 8A New Field in Motion

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”1

—Arundhati Roy

You can feel the change in the air. It's there. Just about everywhere in the world, every day, there is someone talking, writing, or arguing about changes in gender equality and equity.

For decades, the gap in educational and occupational opportunities between men and women has been narrowing. The pace is erratic, geography matters, and the inequities still range from frustrating to unthinkable, but “she” is on her way to a more inclusive world. And “he” is going with her. Harvard economist Claudia Goldin called the “converging roles of men and women” among “the grandest advances” in society and the economy in the last century.2 At the same time, while more and more women succeed in all types of paid professional endeavors—and maintain their demanding roles as wives, mothers, daughters, volunteers, ministers, athletes, and so forth—the gaps between men and women in earnings, opportunities, and responsibilities persist.

Gender lens investing is a product of and a force in this grand arc of converging economic roles. It reaches from the dreams of a million adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa to become small business owners and transform the prospects of their continent to the idea that investors can fund a software company making mobile apps for these young women to manage their businesses, and everything in between.

The rapid broadening ...

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