OECD Forum 2012: Gender


For information on the OECD Gender Forum - Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now!

Held on 17 December 2012

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Gender is maybe the most underexploited resource for the economy and society. Opportunities for women are not equal in education, in the labour market, in business, or politics. This is a waste for the individual, but is also an obstacle to realise the full potential of our economies.” (Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General)



Why is gender inequality still an issue?


Even though in OECD countries more women (40%) than men (31%) obtain a tertiary degree, only 65% of women compared to 79% of men participate in the labour force. Women earn 16% less than men and face a higher risk of poverty in old age. With few exceptions, women’s representation on corporate boards is under 15% and in parliaments’ it is rarely above 35%. Why do the old patterns persist? What can be done to change these models and to improve opportunities for women?


A wide range of socio-economic policies are needed to further women’s advancement in the workforce. These include encouraging female entrepreneurship, promoting equal opportunities in educational programmes, improving part-time working conditions, providing better access to high-quality child-care and more family friendly policies. Better conditions for women in the workforce depend on men and women taking an equal share in family; i.e. men should be able, for instance, to take a paternity leave, be absent from work to take care of a sick child.


The launch of the OECD Gender Initiative during OECD Week will provide an opportunity to debate these issues. Why is gender equality still an issue? How to ensure equal access to finance and networks for women entrepreneurs? How to explain that the gender pay gap is highest among high earners? How to address gender inequality in the boardroom? Are quotas the best way? What policies should be put in place to support women, not only at the top management level, but also middle-class women, who struggle to balance work and family obligations? What is the cost to our economies of not making full use of all our human resources, both men and women?






OECD work on Gender

Discrimination against women