Here are few highlights from a recent Newsweek article on the female emerging market.
- While most of us know intuitively that women's place in the world has risen in the last several decades, a look at the hard data is startling, in a good way. Huge improvements in female access to education around the world mean that the literacy rates for young women, which used to trail those of men by 30 percent or more, are now almost universally within a single digit of men's. In the U.S. and the EU, most college students are already women, and even in most of the key developing countries, girls now fare nearly as well as boys in primary- and secondary-school enrollment. Labor-force participation, already high in rich countries, has jumped exponentially in large swaths of the developing world over the last few years; 70 percent of women in countries like China and Vietnam now work
- The rise of women as a grand, cross-border emerging market could have implications as profound as the rise of India and China. There's a wide body of research to suggest that women's spending patterns may be exactly what the world needs at this moment. "Economists have studied how women spend in comparison to to men, and they tend to spend more on things that are linked to people's well being, like health and education. They also tend to save more, and exhibit less risky financial behavior," notes Yassine Fall, senior economic adviser for UNIFEM, the U.N. agency dedicated to women. The fallout for business and investors could be significant. Goldman Sachs estimates, for example, that more male-oriented product categories may show slower growth rates than areas like consumer durables, food, health care, and child care—in short, all the stuff that women spend their money on.
- Women may also play an important role in reshaping industries like financial services. The female propensity to save may fuel growth of banking services in countries such as India, where roughly half of all household assets are currently held in physical categories like land and machinery. The vast unmet desire among Western women for more simple, understandable financial products and services could also help make retail investing in countries like the U.S. more accessible and transparent. Analysts say companies like Visa, Wal-Mart, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, and others that already have a strong leg up in the women's market stand to prosper further from the female consumer boom.
In her article Passing the Technical Torch: "Intrepreneurs" are the New Entrepreneurs, IBM's Sharon Nunes points out that women are also shaping and defining new emerging IT market opportunities. Recently, Sharon spoke at a conference focused on preparing female
scientists and engineers for successful transition into
entrepreneurship. The conference held by the Committee on Women in
Science, Engineering and Medicine, offered a session to discuss the
concept of “intrepreneurship” as an alternative to the traditional
According to Sharon, intrepreneurs create businesses within existing companies. Sharon certainly speaks from experience, today she leads IBM’s Big Green Innovations group—focused on water management, alternative energy and carbon management. Sharon points our her leadership role isn't a simply a lucky coincidence. It’s because she wanted to work on something she cared deeply about, and she worked hard to raise awareness inside the IBM company that BIG GREEN wasn’t just a good idea—it was global imperative.
IBM's Big Green Innovations initiative was started as part of a $100 million investment in 10 new businesses based on ideas generated during Innovation Jam in 2006. IBM uses Jams to enable broad collaboration, gain new perspectives on problems and challenges and find important patterns and themes—all with the goal of accelerating decision making and action. Jams are grounded in “crowdsourcing” also known as “wisdom of the crowds.” And this particular “crowd”—hundreds of thousands of IBMers, their families and IBM customers—called resoundingly for an effort like Big Green Innovations. And so, it happened.