Gender equality gap, notably on pay, in OECD countries needs to be tackled


(Paris, 8 March 2010) - Governments and firms need to do more to tackle the gender equality gap in OECD countries, according to an OECD report released to recognise International Women’s Day.

Even if the share of working women is high on average in OECD countries, with 62% of all women in paid work, women earn almost a fifth less than men. While one out of four women works part-time, only 6% of men do so. These gender differences widen when there are children, since women are more likely to adjust their work patterns than men.

Gender wage gaps vary across countries. Japanese and Korean men earn about 30% more than women, but in Belgium and New Zealand the gap is below 10%. One of the reasons for lower earnings is that women more often work in lower-paid jobs.

The report notes a growing trend in the number of countries that offer paid or unpaid paternity leave to fathers but says it is still largely mothers who take parental leave. “As long as women rather than men take time off work to provide care, there will always be employers who perceive women as less committed to their career than men, and are therefore less likely to invest in female career opportunities and depress female earnings as a whole,” said Monika Queisser, head of the OECD’s Social Policy division.

Women also spend more time caring for children or elderly relatives - at least twice as much as men in almost all countries. The largest differences are recorded for Japan and Turkey, where women spend on average 4 and 6 times more time on care work than men, respectively.

Men universally report spending more time in leisure activities, but there is wide variation across the OECD. While Norwegian men have just a few minutes more leisure per day, Italian men have nearly 80 minutes more of daily leisure than women.

Across all OECD countries women are more likely to be poor than men, especially from age 66 onwards. Women aged 66-75 are 1.2 times more likely to be poor than the general population; above age 75, this risk goes up to 1.7.

The Gender Brief is available here. For comment on the report, journalists are invited to contact Willem Adema, tel.: +00331.4524.1557 or email:


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