Well that is a long discussion and there is no one thing you can point at, there is however a range of contributing factors, key ones I see include:
- Women in most countries are discouraged from an early age. This is changing in the "developed" world but the influence from an ingrained "old world" mindset in parents take 2-3 generations to be removed and level the playing field properly.
- Women have babies, men don't. I'm liable to be shot for this one but it has to be brought up. Women have to be careful starting a business because, next to having a child, it is one of the most time demanding things you can do ... and they have to choose.
- In many countries there is a legacy "old world view". Most large companies are run by older men, who still hold to the old views, they are the ones making the decisions on who to hire ... so on average they stick to what they know.
- Women prioritise differently to men. This I think is largely due to the "old world/cultural" legacy but women, on average, spend more time looking after themselves, investing in friendships and have other priorities around personal and spiritual development. Obviously there are individual cases everyone can point at that don't match this pattern but on average I think women tend to have alternative interests.
So I think, as you point out, that the picture is changing dramatically, we just happen find ourselves in the middle of the change point for the majority of countries around the world ... kind of exciting really.
If you interested have a listen to Hanselminutes. Women in Technology in the Muslim World, this is a good discussion around the differences that can happen if the "old world view" is removed.
There was one other discussion I heard but can't find. It referenced a study on the "glass ceiling" effect which looked at women coming out of key management courses in key universities and it found that they tended to have a few things happen which meant there were simply less cadidates than men. This included
- having babies dropped them out of the race.
- Women coming from those courses tended to meet men who were also from those courses and by mid 30s the man was still working flat out and the woman had changed direction/lifestyle because together they could afford it.
- the fact that men studied or worked on average 4 hours per week more than women due to women having a better work/life balance ... this over 20 years adds up in "experience".
So anything approaching an equal 50/50 men to women would show an actual massive bais towards women.
I can't remember the actual podcast/book but I will fill it in if I can find it.