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Closing the Gender Gap

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image of Closing the Gender Gap

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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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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