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Will the Davos focus on gender equality survive a visit by Donald Trump?

Gender equality is at the heart of the World Economic Forum’s agenda this year.

For the first time, the event is being chaired by an all-female panel. Seven women, each of them at the top of their profession; in business, politics, science and engineering.

The WEF denies the move is deliberate, preferring to see it reflecting slow, steady social change.

Sharon Burrow, head of the International Trades Union Confederation, is one of the co-chairs. She claims that progress on equality between the sexes has stalled.

“Most business leaders talk about it but don’t do anything to tackle the bias within their companies. We continue to pay women less than men, we continue to place women in insecure work. The rules have to change,” she told ITV News.

Of the 3,000 people who are attending the World Economic Forum this year - chief executives, prime ministers, presidents, central bankers - only one in five are women.

Donald Trump - not known for his progressive views on women - will be at Davos. Credit: AP

In recent years there has been an effort to encourage companies to promote women.

In the UK, women occupy 29% of boardroom positions. That is a higher figure than in either Germany or the United States, although in France 40% of board room positions are held by female executives.

But women still rarely get the top job.

Only seven of the 100 largest companies listed on London Stock Exchange have female chief executives.

And across the country, in the average workplace, men paid 9% more than women.

“At this rate it will take 200 years for women to be paid the same as men,” Anne Richards, the chief executive of M&G, told me.

“There’s is an urgent need to move faster."

'We continue to pay women less than men...The rules have to change,' said Sharon Burrows. Credit: ITV News

New research, published in Davos, suggests that gender stereotyping is part of the problem; that it starts at an early age and in the classroom.

As part of the “Drawing the Future” experiment, school children were asked to imagine different occupations. The results suggest that very few girls see themselves themselves as scientists or engineers.

Anne Richards started her career as an engineer. “We need to be presenting a whole variety of career paths to children - boys as well as girls - and giving them the confidence to pursue their passions," she said.

The question is will the World Economic Forum’s focus on gender equality survive a visit from Donald Trump?

The leader of the free world is frequently accused of sexism and he’s on his way here.

“Davos Man” is a phrase coined years ago to describe the global elite who attend this event. Davos woman is becoming more conspicuous.

However, for now, the balance of power may be shifting but it remains skewed.