The Pursuit of Gender Equality

The Pursuit of Gender Equality

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04 Oct 2017
9789264281318 (PDF) ;9789264281301(print)

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Gender inequalities persist in all areas of social and economic life and across countries. Young women in OECD countries generally obtain more years of schooling than young men, but women are less likely than men to engage in paid work. Gaps widen with age, as motherhood typically has marked negative effects on gender pay gaps and career advancement. Women are also less likely to be entrepreneurs, and are underrepresented in private and public leadership positions.

The 2013 and 2015 OECD Gender Recommendations provide guidance on how to advance gender equality in education, employment, entrepreneurship and public life; this book discusses recent developments in these areas in one overview chapter and 24 short chapters which each include key findings and policy recommendations. Topics include violence against women, gender budgeting, the unequal sharing of unpaid work, labour market outcomes and migration. The book presents a range of indicators illustrating gender gaps. It also discusses recent policy initiatives, such as pay transparency measures to reduce gender wage gaps and policy reform aimed at fathers taking parental leave. Overall, progress has been slow and there is a strong need for further policy action to close gender gaps in education, employment, entrepreneurship and public life.

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Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Table of Contents

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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right. It is also a keystone of a prosperous, modern economy that provides sustainable inclusive growth. Gender equality is essential for ensuring that men and women can contribute fully at home, at work and in public life, for the betterment of societies and economies at large.

  • Acronyms and conventional signs
  • Executive summary

    Gender inequality pervades all aspects of social and economic life, and affects countries at all levels of development. Young women in OECD countries now often obtain more schooling than young men, but women continue to be poorly represented in the lucrative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The number of women in the labour force has moved closer to that of men in the past few decades, but in every country women are still less likely to engage in paid work.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Gender equality: A global overview

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    • Gender equality in the OECD and around the world: An overview

      Girls and young women now outpace boys and young men in educational attainment, on average, in OECD countries. Yet gender gaps in employment, entrepreneurship and public life persist, and gaps have changed little in recent years. Public policies are not doing enough to end these inequalities.

    • Sustainable development goals and gender equality

      The internationally-agreed “Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development” holds great promise for achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) recognises gender equality as a universal driver of sustainable development and asserts the need to accelerate efforts to end gender inequality. Agenda 2030’s universal scope applies to all countries – including OECD countries – and presents a sober reminder that all countries have a way to go to reach gender equality.

    • Governance for gender equality

      Gender budgeting has gained momentum in the past decade and is viewed as a valuable tool for tackling perceived inequalities in policy development and resource allocation. Seven OECD countries have reported progress in their gender budgeting practices since 2013, while the vast majority of other OECD countries implement some form of gender responsiveness in the policy-making process. This may, in turn, impact public spending.

    • Socio-demographic change and gender roles

      With more highly-educated women than men entering the so-called “marriage market”, fewer women are marrying better-educated men. Increasingly, they live with men who are educated to similar levels, and highly-educated women increasingly partner with a less well-educated partner. The least educated men are more likely to left be on the sidelines of the marriage market and remain single. If they do live with a partner, though, they are more likely than other groups to marry rather than to cohabit informally.

    • Violence against women: A new policy priority for OECD countries

      Violence against women (VAW) remains a global pandemic. More than one-third of all women worldwide are estimated to have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Gender equality in education

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    • Where girls still lag behind in education

      By 2014, gender parity in access to primary, lower secondary and upper secondary had generally been achieved worldwide. However, global averages mask persistent disparities in regions and countries. Girls are, for example, still less likely than boys to be enrolled in primary school in sub-Saharan Africa – fewer than 95 girls for every 100 boys.

    • The under-representation of women in STEM fields

      In higher education, young women are under-represented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Women account for less than 20% of entrants into tertiarylevel computer science programmes in OECD countries and only around 18% of engineering entrants.

    • Boys fall behind at school, but catch up shortly thereafter

      In 2014 across the OECD, 57% of bachelor’s and master’s degrees were obtained by women; though only 47% of doctoral graduates were women.

    • Boys and men are under-represented in health studies and among teachers

      In 2015, 22% of girls but only 8% of boys expected to work in the health sector in the future – a gender gap that has widened since 2006 in most OECD countries. In 2015, nearly four times as many women as men studied health and welfare across the OECD.

    • Gender gaps in financial literacy and financial education

      The 2015 OECD/INFE survey of financial literacy suggests that women have less financial knowledge than men in 19 out of 30 participating countries and economies, with no significant gender differences in the other countries and economies.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Gender equality in employment

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    • Women at work: A snapshot of women in the labour force

      Female employment rates remain well below men’s, but gender gaps in employment rates have narrowed in almost three-quarters of OECD countries since 2012.

    • The gender wage gap

      The gender pay gap among full-time workers, across OECD countries, is basically unchanged at just below 15% since 2010. Gender pay gaps are especially large among high earners.

    • Barriers to women's career path and income mobility

      Women’s careers are one third shorter than men’s and are much more likely to involve part-time work. Much of the difference in earnings progression is generated before age 40 as women miss many labour market opportunities during the early stages of their careers.

    • Glass ceilings still unbroken

      Gender balance at the top of listed companies is still a distant goal. In 2016, women sat on 20% of board seats OECD-wide, up slightly from 16.8% in 2013. On average, 4.8% of CEOs were women in 2016, double the 2.4% in 2013.

    • Gender inequality in unpaid work

      Women continue to spend far more hours than men on unpaid childcare and housework, and in most OECD countries, women spend more total time on paid and unpaid work than men do.

    • A good start for equal parenting: Paid parental leave

      All OECD countries other than the United States have national schemes that provide mothers with a statutory right to paid leave. On the whole, this is good for maternal and child health and for female labour market outcomes.

    • Childcare supports: Helping both parents in paid work

      Participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) not only varies across OECD countries but also within countries across socio-economic groups. In many OECD countries, children from poorer families are far less likely to be found using formal ECEC than their better-off peers.

    • Flexible working arrangements

      Since women take on most childcare work, one might expect mothers to make more use of flexible working arrangements than fathers, or to work in jobs with greater access to flexible working. Indeed, women are much more likely to work part-time but otherwise gender differences in use of or access to flexible working practices are small. Men are more often than women in a senior position which gives them more control over work schedules.

    • Gender gaps in education and labour markets of emerging economies

      Gender gaps in labour force participation have shrunk in many emerging economies, but progress has been patchy. Latin America recorded the most significant improvements, particularly in Chile and Costa Rica where the participation gap has been narrowing by 1 percentage point per year since the mid-1990s. Large gender gaps in labour force participation persist in the Middle East and North Africa (Chapter 20), India and Indonesia.

    • Gender inequality in the Middle East and North Africa: Women's participation in economic and public life

      Daunting legislative, economic and social barriers to women’s participation in economic and public life persist. Despite enshrining the principles of non-discrimination and equality between men and women in constitutions and labour legislation, gender inequalities in the broader legislative framework and in practice continue to affect women’s effective access to employment and career development. Furthermore, some sectors where women account for the majority of the workforce are not regulated or protected by labour law provisions.

    • Women on the move

      More than one migrant in two in the OECD is a woman. Migrant women predominate in the category of “family migrants”.

    • Gender, health and labour force participation

      Although women typically live longer than men, the extra years of life are often lived in poor health. Women are more likely to be disabled when they are of working age, which can limit labour market opportunities, and they are more likely to rely on long-term care services at the end of their lives. Monitoring and improving the quality of long-term care is crucial to the wellbeing of many older women.

    • Going digital: The future of work for women

      Women can benefit from flexibility and choice in where, when, and how to work, and this flexibility may boost their employment rates. However, these benefits may be offset by lower job quality. If more flexibility results in increased working hours and problems in separating work and personal life, the bottom line may simply be greater stress.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Gender equality in entrepreneurship

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    • Gender gaps in entrepreneurship persist

      Women are less likely than men to be entrepreneurs. The gender gap in entrepreneurial activities has changed very little in most countries since 2012.

    • Policies to address barriers to women entrepreneurs

      Women tend to have different motivations and intentions than men in becoming entrepreneurs. They may be attracted to self-employment for the greater flexibility it can offer in managing the work-life balance and family care responsibilities – one of the reasons women entrepreneurs are less likely to seek to grow their businesses than men entrepreneurs.

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