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Closing the Gender Gap

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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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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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