Gender data highlights


What big data can tell us about women on boardsWhat big data can tell us about women on boards
The OECD Analytical Database on Individual Multinationals and their Affiliates (ADIMA) shows that women are under-represented in boardrooms across all industries and though there are signs of improvement, a glass ceiling continues to exist even within the Boardroom hierarchy. Women make up only 16% of board members in the top 500 MNEs (by market capital) according to ADIMA, with shares as low as 12% in the technology sector. Even in the best performing sector - Consumer Non-Cyclicals (companies producing household staples) - women make up less than one-fifth of the boardroom.  


Addressing femicide in the context of rampant violence against women in Latin America

‌Addressing femicide in the context of rampant violence against women in Latin America
Violence against women (VAW) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) constitutes a pervasive issue, which culminates into high rates of femicides – or feminicides. The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) regional report on LAC reveals that 27% of women in the region had suffered violence from an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime, reaching 33% in South America. The issue stems from legal frameworks that fail to comprehensively cover all forms of violence against women.  


How can more women have the right skills to successfully start a business?

‌How can more women have the right skills to successfully start a business?
Women in OECD countries are about 50% less likely than men to be involved in launching or running a new business. Women-operated businesses are also less likely to create jobs for others. Moreover, women, on average, tend to operate different types of businesses than men. While women start firms in all sectors, including technology-intensive sectors, 13.3% of self-employed women in 2018 were operating in health and social work sectors and 11.5% in service sectors such as cleaning of textile products and physical well-being activities.


Wide gap in pension benefits between men and women

‌Wide gap in pension benefits between men and women
Data shows that across European OECD countries, pension payments to women aged 65 and over were 25% lower, on average, than for men. Differences are above 40% in Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, while in Denmark, Estonia and the Slovak Republic the pension gap is lower than 10%.


Aid to gender equality

‌Aid to gender equality
March 2020 - In 2018, another crisis struck the aid system exposing a pattern of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH). That same year, 205 allegations of SEAH involving UN Staff were reported and 123 allegations involving implementing partners.

The global outrage prompted by the scandal was long overdue. Aid agency staff work alongside vulnerable populations, leading to vast power imbalances between the providers of aid and the people they are trying to help. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable.  




©Arseniy Bokov/

Why don’t more girls choose STEM careers?

‌March 2019 - While in most countries women represent a majority of all graduates from tertiary education, fewer women than men complete Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) university degrees. New results based on data from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shed light on the role of relative academic strength in determining the extent of this gap.


©Tero Vesalainen/‌Girls are more exposed than boys to cyberbullying

‌March 2019 - Digital technologies are radically and rapidly changing the way people work, consume, get information and communicate with each other. How’s Life in the Digital Age? provides a comprehensive overview of how the digital transformation is impacting people’s lives, and highlights that some of these impacts are very different between women and men.


Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/shutterstock.comAre women entrepreneurs more likely to work out of the home?

‌March 2019 - Self-employed women are consistently more likely than self-employed men to work out of their home (see Figure). The only exceptions are Norway, Denmark and Portugal. The gap is particularly striking in Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, where the proportions self-employed women working from home are more than double those of men.


©Andrii Yalanskyi/shutterstock.comA long way before turning promises into progress: discriminatory laws and social norms still hamper gender equality

‌March 2019 - Legal reforms and transformative gender policies and programmes conducted by governments, civil society, philanthropy and the private sector are starting to pay off. The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) 2019 results indicate that the global level of discrimination in social institutions – i.e. formal and informal law, social norms and practices - is 29%, ranging from 8% in Switzerland to 64% in Yemen.


©kenary820/shutterstock.comCan role models encourage woman to step off the beaten path and become entrepreneurs?

‌March 2019 - In virtually all countries around the world, there exists a gender gap in self-employment rates. In the OECD area, only one in ten employed women is self-employed, compared to one in five men. These gender differences raise the question of what factors in people’s lives might encourage them to become entrepreneurs. Could role models have an influence? Recent findings from the Facebook-OECD-World Bank Future of Business Survey (December 2018, covering 95 countries) reveal that, on average, close to half of all surveyed entrepreneurs had a role model when growing up.   


©alice-photo/shutterstock.comWomen are well-represented in health and long-term care professions, but often in jobs with poor working conditions

‌March 2019 -Women make up the majority of the overall health and social workforce: across the OECD around 3/4 of people working in health and social care are women, i.e. 20 million women compared with 6.3 million men. But, women working in the health and social care sector are often in lower-paid jobs.


Palto/shutterstock.comAchieving gender balance in corporate leadership in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

‌March 2019 - Globally, women’s labour force participation rates have moved closer to men’s over the past few decades, but in every country women are still less likely than men to engage in paid work. When women do work, they are more likely to work part-time, are less likely to become managers or board members, and on average they earn less than men. 


Increasing use of gender mainstreaming tools across the OECD

‌March 2019 - Tools and levers such as structural policies, budgets, regulatory frameworks, and procurement processes – when accompanied by gender-sensitive lens – have a strong potential to advance women’s economic empowerment including full participation in the labour market, addressing occupational discrimination and supporting female entrepreneurship and access to finance. 


Women in the digital era: Internet use and skills at work

‌March 2018 - As the world is #GoingDigital, structural changes across economies and societies deeply affect daily life for most people. Individuals, especially younger generations, are increasingly connected thanks to faster and cheaper access to broadband and the widespread use of mobile technologies. Jobs are being transformed too: the digital transformation at work is allowing new work arrangements to emerge, some of which hold the promise of more flexibility, in terms of workplace and working hours, for instance.


Gender 2018, ELS articleWomen with low levels of education face a double disadvantage in the labour market

‌March 2018 - Gender employment gaps are persistent. OECDs 2017 The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle showed that despite decades of progress, women are still much less likely than men to engage in paid work and, when they do work, are less likely to progress in their careers or become business owners, more likely to work shorter hours, and end up stuck in precarious, low-status jobs.



Digitalisation facilitates trade, but participation and patterns still differ for male and female entrepreneurs

‌March 2018 - Today, small businesses have a menu of digital tools that allow them to leverage global connections and market directly to potential customers all over the world. Thereby they can overcome barriers to trade which typically weigh more heavily on smaller firms with smaller economies of scale.



Women-dedicated business incubators and accelerators can stimulate growth intentions and support high potential female entrepreneurs

‌March 2018 - Female entrepreneurs are less likely than male entrepreneurs to expect to create a lot of jobs with their businesses. During the period 2012-16, 8.8% of women entrepreneurs in OECD countries expected that their business will generate at least 19 new jobs over the next five years. This gender gap in growth expectations can be explained by a number of factors, including differences in entrepreneurial motivations and intentions. Some women appear to be more likely to go into self-employment to better manage their work-life balance and others start businesses to avoid the “glass ceiling” in employment. However, women entrepreneurs are also more likely to operate in service sectors where there is less growth potential.


Gender-sensitive parliaments: Integrating a gender lens in parliamentary work

‌March 2018 - Parliaments are the supervisor of gender equality in public life.  They can scrutinise the government’s gender equality actions through questioning cabinet members and holding public hearings (used in 72% of OECD countries), as well as reviewing gender equality reports issued by government departments (used in 64% of OECD countries). Parliaments can also oversee budget cycle processes and guarantee that expenditures equally benefit men and women, for example, by ensuring allocation of sufficient funds or requesting gender-disaggregated statistics to monitor impact.   


Entrenched social norms prevent the equal distribution of caring responsibilities between men and women

‌March 2018 - Transforming traditional gender roles and promoting gender equality requires addressing discriminatory social norms. The need to change boys’ and men’s attitudes towards caregiving and other unpaid work and ensuring that men are not stigmatised when they take on care responsibilities is a keystone of gender equality (OECD, 2017). Social norms shape acceptable roles, opportunities and behaviours for women and men in society and the household. Deeply entrenched gender stereotypes confine men to breadwinning and view unpaid care work as a female prerogative.  


How do partners in couple families share paid work?

‌March 2017 - The dramatic increase in the number of women and mothers in the workforce in recent decades has led to large shifts in the way partners in couple families share and organise paid work. In many OECD countries, the dominance of the traditional male-breadwinner model is now largely a thing of the past. In most countries, fewer than one in three couples with at least one child have a father who works 40 or more hours per week and a mother who is not in paid work, and in Belgium, Denmark, France, Norway and Sweden, this falls to below one in ten couple families.


Once over the barriers to start-up, women feel as confident as men about their enterprise

‌March 2017 - A new online monthly survey, the Future of Business Survey, reveals encouraging findings about the level of confidence of women who own businesses with an online presence.

Typically, countries show gender gaps in factors that are important for entrepreneurship. On average, men are more likely than women to declare that they would have access to money to set up a business and to training to help them do so.


Do women have equal access to finance for their business?

‌March 2017 - Women are less likely than men to report that they can access the financing needed to start a business in all countries except for the United States, Mexico, Greece and Indonesia, where men and women are equally likely to report to have access to finance (see figure below). This gender gap can be associated with women having lower levels of experience, operating in highly competitive and low-growth sectors, as well as gender-biased credit scoring and gender stereotyping in investment evaluations. Women are also often hindered by less access to basic financial services (e.g. checking and savings accounts).


Women make up most of the health sector workers but they are under-represented in high-skilled jobs

‌March 2017 - The current overall health workforce is mostly composed of women. Nonetheless, female health workers remain underrepresented in highly skilled occupations, such as in surgery. As of 2015, just under half of all doctors are women across OECD countries on average. The variation across countries is significant: in Japan and Korea only around 20% of doctors are women, in Latvia and Estonia this proportion is over 70%.



The pursuit of happiness: does gender-based discrimination in social institutions matter?

‌March 2017 - Gender-based discrimination in social institutions has recently been estimated to be a burden for economic growth. Globally, the current level of discrimination in formal and informal laws, social norms and practices, measured by the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index - SIGI - is estimated to lead to a significant GDP-loss and a gradual dismantling of gender based discriminatory social institutions by 2030 could increase the annual GDP global growth rate by 0.03 to 0.6 percentage points over the next 15 years, depending on the scenario and the prevalence of existing gender gaps (Ferrant and Kolev, 2016).


Women in the Judiciary: working towards a legal system reflective of society

‌March 2017 - In recent decades, the number of women in the judiciary has significantly increased worldwide. In many countries around half of law students are women, and 2014 data shows that women in OECD countries make up more than 54% of professional judges. But women are still vastly underrepresented in top-ranking judicial positions including on High Court benches and other senior roles in the legal profession.



Photo©www.shutterstock.comWomen in scientific production

‌March 2016 - Gender equality forms part of research and innovation policy in many countries and organisations. It aims to promote equal participation and opportunities for women and men in research careers, encompassing issues ranging from compulsory education to gender balance in scientific decision-making. Achieving parity in participation in tertiary education is of particular importance, especially in research degrees, as this provides an increasingly important entry mechanism into research careers and senior roles across the science and innovation system.


Photo©www.shutterstock.comGender gap in education

March 2016 - One of the most remarkable consequences of the expansion of education in OECD countries over the past decades is the reversal of the gender gap in education. From outright exclusion and discrimination in educational institutions less than a century ago, girls and young women have conquered schools and colleges. In 2013, 55% of all students graduating from a general secondary education programme were girls.


Photo©www.shutterstock.comGender gap in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial risk

March 2016 - There are inherent risks when choosing to set-up a new business. However, some of these risks, like attaining a satisfactory work-life balance are often more inhibiting for women than for men. In fact, independently of a country’s economic context and the overall cultural attitude toward entrepreneurship, women always appear less prone to take the risk of creating their own business than men.




Gender gaps in cancer mortality remain large in OECD countries, but starting to narrow

March 2016 - The gender gap in mortality from cancer remains large in OECD countries, with mortality rates among men being nearly 70% higher than among women on average (as shown in the last edition of Health at a Glance 2015). But the good news is that this gender gap has narrowed since the mid-1990s as mortality rates among men declined more rapidly. This gender gap in cancer mortality can be explained by a greater prevalence of risk factors among men, notably higher smoking rates. 


Photo©www.shutterstock.comDoes gender discrimination in social institutions matter for long-term growth?

March 2016 - A recent study by the OECD indicates that gender-based discrimination in social institutions impedes economic growth. Deeply entrenched discrimination in formal or informal laws, social norms or practices poses significant and enduring obstacles for women worldwide. According to the OECD study, there is a strong negative relationship between gender-based discrimination in social institutions, measured by the OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), and income per capita.   


Photo©‌Integrating gender equality into climate change action

March 2016 - In recent year, progress has been made in recognising the gendered impacts of climate change and women’s key contribution to developing effective and locally appropriate climate solutions. The landmark Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 marks another important step forward by providing a mandate for advancing the integration of gender equality into adaptation measures and capacity-building activities. Yet, the real litmus test will lie in how political commitments translate into progress on the ground.


©Photosensitive/ReutersProgress for women and girls in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

September 2015 - The UN Sustainable Development Goals could be a real game changer for gender issues, with wins in fraught areas such as reproductive rights. But there will be challenges, and opposing voices, to contend with in the years ahead. 

© OECD Observer


Güler Turan Senator, Member of the Flemish Parliament, Member of the Committee on Economic Affairs, Employment, Social Economics, Innovation and Science ©Rights reservedWhy quotas work for gender equality‌

June 2015 - Gender inequality is one of the most primitive and oldest forms of inequality. Sadly, it is still very much a reality in most parts of the world. In many countries women do not have equal access to education, healthcare, safety, work or political decision-making. 

© OECD Observer


Mari Kiviniemi, OECD Deputy Secretary-General

Why a push for gender equality makes sound economic sense

June 2015 - This year’s OECD Forum coincides with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, which was an important milestone to promote gender equality worldwide. Much has been achieved since 1995, but unfortunately, a lot remains to be done to close the gender gap and increase women’s participation in our economies and societies.

  © OECD Observer  


Hee-Jung Kim Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Republic of Korea, ©Korean government

Korea's work-life balance policies for sustainable growth

June 2015 - Of the abundant resources given to mankind, what is the most underused resource of our time? Without a doubt, women!

The potential of women must be fully tapped if we are to secure a path to sustainable development and address the ever-decreasing working-age population in the post-2015 era.

© OECD Observer





More women on board

June 2015 - The 30% Club is a group of company chairmen, chairwomen and CEOs committed to achieving better gender balance at all levels of their organisations through voluntary actions.

Business leadership is key: this takes the issue beyond a specialist diversity effort and into mainstream talent management. This is a collaborative approach to creating change.

© OECD Observer  ‌   

©Wikimedia/Andrea BooherWomen are catching up to men in volunteering, and they engage in more altruistic voluntary activities

March 2015 - Over the last six years women have increased their participation in volunteering and are today almost on par with men. The biggest increase in female participation in voluntary activities was registered in Italy, the Slovak Republic, Canada and Estonia. In many countries a gender dimension is more apparent in specific sectors and voluntary roles rather than in overall participation rates in volunteering. Men are much more likely than women to volunteer in sports associations, while women make up the majority of volunteers active in the social and health sector.


©Photos LibresGender gaps in secondary education and early marriage

March 2015 - Closing gender gaps in education by improving female education require addressing discriminatory social norms such as early marriage. Education is essential for women’s and girl’s empowerment, but social norms, such as early marriage, force girls to abandon their education limiting educational opportunities. This is extremely important for developing countries where increased female education can be a catalyst for change leading to better health and employment outcomes and increase women’s decision-making power.


©Freedigitalphotos.netAid to fragile states and economies targeting gender equality

March 2015 - In October 2015, it will be 15 years since the adoption of the landmark United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. While greater political attention at the international level has contributed to an increased focus on gender equality in donor support to fragile states, only a small proportion of aid to fragile states addresses women’s needs and priorities. 


©Freedigitalphotos.netWhat do women do online?

March 2015 - For most people, the Internet is now part of everyday life. On average, about 80% of adults and 95% of 16-24-years-olds in the OECD use the Internet, most of them on a daily basis. And so do women, with the gender gap in Internet use closing up in a majority of OECD countries. In 2005, only 55% of women and 61% men were Internet users while these ratios have now reached 80% and 82% respectively.



©Freedigitalphotos.netFinancial literacy

March 2015 - Are the gender differences found in mathematics or reading performance also observed in financial literacy performance? The 2012 PISA financial literacy assessment revealed that there are no gender differences in financial literacy scores among 15-year-old students in most countries and economies participating in the exercise. Only in Italy do boys perform better than girls, but differences are small.



Pay gap

March 2015 - Unequal pay between men and women continues to pose problems, despite decades of legislation by governments to address it, like the Equal Pay Act in the United States and the French labour code on wage equality introduced about half a century ago. In fact, not only are women still paid considerably less than men throughout the world, but UN predictions suggest the gap will persist for 70 years to come. 

© OECD Observer


© AFP/Kobal/The Picture DeskForging a gender-balanced economy

June 2014 - “I am only a woman!” declares Sybylla Melvyn with deliberate irony, in the Australian classic novel, My Brilliant Career. When Miles Franklin wrote the novel in 1901, aged just 19, she was embarking on her own career path, and though successful, like Sybylla, she encountered many social, economic and cultural hurdles along the way.

© OECD Observer  


Balancing paid work, unpaid work and leisure 

March 2014 - Greater gender equality in working hours is not just about more women in full-time employment. It is also about more men reducing their long hours in paid work. Although detailed information is available for a limited number of OECD countries, data on the usual hours worked per week illustrate how the prevalence of long and short working hours differs across countries and the sexes.


Not a math person?

March 2014 - Boys continue to outperform girls in mathematics by the equivalent of around three months of school, that is an average of 11 score points in the PISA assessment. Across OECD countries 15% of boys but only 11% of girls achieve at the highest levels of proficiency in mathematics. By contrast, girls outperform boys in reading in all countries by an average of 38 score points (across OECD countries) - the equivalent of one year of school. 


 Women in government

March 2014 - In many OECD countries, women’s representation is much higher in public sector than in private sector employment. In 2010, women accounted for less than 45% of workers in the total labour force but for 57% of public sector employees in OECD countries.


 Financing the unfinished business of gender equality beyond 2015

March 2014 - The third Millennium Development Goal (MDG 3) – to promote gender equality and empower women – has been a catalyst in galvanising new resources for gender equality and women’s rights. Bi-lateral donors’ aid in support of gender equality has tripled since the MDGs from USD 8 billion in 2002 to USD 24 billion in 2012. Most of this aid went to education and health.


©David Rooney‌ Closing the gender gap can boost the economy 

March 2014 - Reconciling work and family commitments is a challenge in every country, but particularly for Japanese men and women. Much more so than in most other OECD countries, men and women have to choose between babies and bosses: men choose bosses, women less so, but on the whole there are very few babies and there is too little female employment. These shortcomings are increasingly coming to the fore and will have to be addressed. 

© OECD Observer


Who wants to be an entrepreneur?

March 2013 - Fewer women than men become entrepreneurs. In 2012, only 18% of women in the OECD (and 32% of men) have ever started or are taking steps to establish a business (See the chart below). There are even fewer women among business owners with paid employees.


Crisis cuts gender jobs gap but everyone loses

March 2013 - The economic crisis has affected men and women differently in the job market. On average in the OECD, female employment rates have held up at 57%, while male employment rates fell from 75.7% in the first quarter of 2007 to 73% in the third quarter of 2012, the gender employment gap got smaller, but not in the way we would have liked.


Where are tomorrow’s female scientists?

March 2013 - In reading, 15-year-old girls outperform 15-year-old boys (by the equivalent of roughly one year of school), while in mathematics  boys outperform girls (though by a narrower margin, the equivalent of less than half a year of school); in science there is instead little difference between boys’ and girls’ performance. Yet dig a little deeper and a more nuanced picture emerges.



 Do women patent?

March 2012 - Women’s contribution to technological progress is substantial and increasing in all countries. But are countries taking full advantage of women's innovative ideas? Do women with good ideas manage to turn them into marketable products?



 Chairman or Chairwoman

March 2012 - Greater gender diversity in companies’ boardrooms can lead to better management. However, we are still far from a consensus on the best way to improve women’s representation on boards.


Women and Informality

March 2012 - Informal employment is widespread throughout the developing world where it concerns over half to three-quarters of non-agricultural employment. A recent data collection carried out by ILO and Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) provides evidence that women are more likely than men to work in the informal economy.






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