Progress on gender equality still 'far too slow', says OECD


The OECD report said there was no reason for women to trail men in "social, economic and political outcomes" (Source: Getty)

Rich countries are still making slow progress when it comes to reducing gaps in income between men and women over the past five years, according to a report out today from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Since the last report carried out in 2012, many of the OECD's 35 countries have prioritised issues of violence against women, the gender wage gap, and the unequal sharing of unpaid work in policy.

But gender gaps persist "in all areas of social and economic life" across countries, while the size of the gaps has not shifted much in recent years. 

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Around two-thirds of countries have put in place new equal pay policies, involving greater transparency on pay with firms increasingly required to reveal their gender wage gaps. 

But the median female worker still earns almost 15 per cent less than her male counterpart, on average across the OECD. That hasn't moved much since 2010. Women  are also underrepresented in political office, holding fewer than a third of seats in lower houses of national legislatures, on average. 

Similarly, women are less likely to be entrepreneurs, while female-owned businesses tend to earn less than male-owned ones.  

Young women in OECD countries leave school with better qualifications than young men, but are less likely to study in the higher earning STEM-related fields.

"There is no reason for women to trail behind men in social, economic, and political outcomes. Countries need to do much more to reach the gender equality goals," said OECD chief of staff Gabriela Ramos. 

Parenthood continues to play a big role here, with the OECD finding motherhood, much more than fatherhood, "typically has sizeable negative effects on workforce participation, pay and career advancement". 

Having asked the OECD countries the most effective ways to tackle barriers to female employment, more accessible childcare, equal pay for equal work, better access to better jobs and more flexible work were flagged.

Additionally, shifting men's attitude towards care-giving roles was cited as a key way to get more men to move into care-taking roles.

If the gender pay gap was pushed back by a quarter by 2025, that could add an extra percentage point to projected economic growth across OECD countries from 2013 to 2025.

The OECD said the keys to success were to ensure that support is accessible by women "and that is relevant".

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