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It will take 99.5 years to close the global gender gap, and the US is falling behind

·Former Correspondent

It will take an average of 99.5 years to reach gender equality globally across education, health, politics, and all forms of economic participation at the current rate, according to new research from the World Economic Forum.

While the length of time for the gap to close shortened for the first time in three years, down from the 108 years forecasted a year ago, it's still "a timeline we simply cannot accept in today's globalized world, especially among younger generations who hold increasingly progressive views of gender equality," Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, wrote.

For the past 14 years, the World Economic Forum has published its Global Gender Gap Index, which examines gender-based gaps across Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

Looking at the 107 countries the organization has followed since 2006, the main culprit for the "lack of progress" in reaching gender parity is the economic participation and opportunity gap. Presently, it will take 257 years to close that gap at the current rate, up from the 202 years forecasted in last year’s report.

The other area that's dragging down gender equity is political empowerment. Despite more women taking up political leadership positions this year, it will still take 94.5 years to close that gender gap.

Breaking the data down further, the United States lagged this year when it came to addressing gender equality. The U.S. dropped two spots to 53rd out of 153 countries. The U.S. ranked 51st in 2018 and 49th in 2017.

Group of business people having a business meeting
It'll be a long time before we have gender equity in board rooms. (Getty)

"The standstill is mostly explained by a small retraction in its Economic Participation and Opportunity performance, where the progress toward equal wages takes a step back and at the same time income (wages and non-wages) gaps remain large," the report said.

The U.S. ranks 26th in economic participation and opportunity and 47th for wage equality. To date, the U.S. has closed only 69.9% of its wage gap and 65.6% of its income gap.

While approximately 66.8% of adult women work in the U.S., they "still struggle to enter the very top business positions," with only 21.7% of corporate board seats filled by women.

What's more, women are still under-represented in political leadership roles. The U.S. ranks 86th in political empowerment and 76th in the percentage of women in ministerial positions.

When the Global Gender Gap Index began in 2006, the U.S. held the 23rd spot, ranking 3rd for economic participation and opportunity.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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