New laws needed: How 5 years has done little to close the gender gap

New laws needed: How 5 years has done little to close the gender gap

All areas of social and economic life have significant gender gaps in OECD countries, despite five years passing since the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s urgent call to address gender inequality.

That’s according to the findings of a new OECD report, which also reveals that young women are obtaining more education than men across the OECD nations, but such education has not been enough to close gender pay or leadership gaps.

The report, the Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle comes five years after the OECD’s 2012 Closing the Gender Gap Now report. It says it should come as a “stark call to action” for countries to “change public policies in tandem with stereotypes, attitudes and behaviours.”

It highlights the fact that time alone is not enough to solve these challenges, and makes a series of recommendations it says countries should implement immediately.

As Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff commented on the findings: “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.”

In all OECD countries, the report found women were more likely than men to work on a part-time basis, and were less likely to be promoted to management positions. Women were also more likely to face discrimination and earn less than men. Women who become mothers are significantly more likely to experience negative effects on their pay and career development, than men who become fathers.

The report found the OECD pay gap is around 15%, a rate that has barely changed in seven years since 2010.

And still in 2017, women are less likely to be entrepreneurs than men across OECD nations, while female-owned businesses continue to earn less than male ones.

Politically, women hold less that one third of seats in lower houses of national legislatures.

The good news is that the report found many companies are prioritising three of the most important gender inequality issues through policy work: including ending violence against women, closing the gender pay gap, and evening up the unpaid workload.

It also highlighted the work of some countries, including Australia, to encourage more girls and young women to study and enter STEM related fields, and to encourage more boys and men to work in health and education.

However, Australia is not one in the two-thirds of OECD countries to have implemented new gender pay equality measures since 2013.

Australia by the numbers

58.7% of graduates from bachelor programs are female

37% of graduates in science, maths or computing.

11.5% is the gender gap in the labour force participation rate

36.2% of managers are female

8% is the gender gap in the self-employment rate

28.7%.  Female share of seats in Parliament, as of 2016

36.6%. Female share of employment in senior management in central government

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