Closing the Gender Gap

Closing the Gender Gap

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
17 Dec 2012
Pages :
352
ISBN :
9789264179370 (PDF) ; 9789264179363 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264179370-en

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Gender gaps are pervasive in all walks of economic life and imply large losses in terms of foregone productivity and living standards to the individuals concerned and the economy. This new OECD report focuses on how best to close these gender gaps under four broad headings: 1) Gender equality, social norms and public policies; and gender equality in 2) education; 3) employment and 4) entrepreneurship.

Key policy messages are as follows:
-Greater gender equality in educational attainment has a strong positive effect on economic growth;
-Stereotyping needs to be addressed in educational choices at school from a young age. For example, adapt teaching strategies and material to increase engagement of boys in reading and of girls in maths and science; encourage more girls to follow science, engineering and maths courses in higher education and seek employment in these fields;
-Good and affordable childcare is a key factor for better gender equality in employment. But change also has to happen at home as the bulk of housework and caring is left to women in many countries. Policy can support such change, for example, through parental leave policies that explicitly include fathers.
-Support policies for women-owned enterprises need to target all existing firms, not just start-ups and small enterprises. Equal access to finance for male and female entrepreneurs needs to be assured.

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    Foreword

    In the aftermath of the Great Recession, there is an urgent need to focus on the economic case for gender equality and on how changes in the labour market might provide better economic opportunities for both men and women.

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    Executive summary

    Gender equality is not just about economic empowerment. It is a moral imperative. It is about fairness and equity and includes many political, social and cultural dimensions. It is also a key factor in self-reported well-being and happiness across the world.

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    Gender equality: The economic case, social norms, and public policies

    Greater gender equality and a more efficient use of skills are essential to achieving strong and sustainable growth. This section examines the contribution of gender equality in education and the labour market to economic growth. It also looks at the discriminatory social norms that restrict the economic and social roles of girls and women, and how policy can address such norms and practices. Finally, it considers how public institutions pursue gender equality policies and the institutional mechanisms that support the development of effective policies.

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    Gender equality in education

    In many developing countries girls are still less likely than boys to enter secondary education, while in many OECD countries educational attainment of women is now at least on par with that of men. Yet girls are still far less likely than boys to choose scientific and technological fields of study. This section looks at gender gaps in school enrolment rates, educational attainment and policies to address these gaps, including the role of aid in improving gender equality in education in developing countries. It examines gender differences in performance and attitudes in reading and maths, and the reasons why despite good performance women find it harder in many developing countries to find a job on leaving school. It considers how women still prefer to study humanities to sciences and asks what can be done to combat persistent stereotyping. Finally, it looks at the gender gap in financial literacy, and how to ensure women are as well-equipped as men to carry out long-term financial planning.

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    Gender equality in employment

    Compared to men, women are less likely to work full-time, more likely to be employed in lower-paid occupations, and less likely to progress in their careers. As a result gender pay gaps persist and women are more likely to end their lives in poverty. This section looks at how many men and women are in paid work, who works full-time, and how having children and growing older affect women’s work patterns and earnings differently to men’s. It looks at how women bear the brunt of domestic and family responsibilities, even when working full-time. It also considers the benefits for businesses of keeping skilled women in the workplace, and encouraging them to sit on company boards. It looks at women’s representation in parliaments, judicial systems, and the senior civil service. It examines male and female employment in the wake of the crisis, and how women tend to be confined to the most vulnerable categories within the informal sector in developing countries.?

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    Gender equality in entrepreneurship

    There are fewer women entrepreneurs then men in OECD countries and women-owned enterprises have on average lower profits. This section looks at why there are fewer women entrepreneurs than men, the different reasons they have for starting a business, and the different skills they bring to the job. It also looks at the reasons why women-owned businesses have lower profits, and why self-employed women work less, and earn less, than self-employed men. It asks whether women find it harder to finance their business than men and have less innovative enterprises. Finally, it examines policies that support female entrepreneurs in micro- and small businesses – particularly in developing countries – by encouraging entrepreneurs to exit informality and by addressing their specific needs.?

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    General note on figures and tables
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    References
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