What is the gender divide?
The gender divide, or gender gap, describes the disparity between different genders in society, and in turn the labor market and business world, including inequality of opportunity, pay, progression, and benefits. Many women have worked full-time for decades, and in all OECD countries, young women are more likely to hold a tertiary (university) qualification than young men. Nevertheless, women are still under-represented in executive suites and board rooms as well as in higher levels of firm hierarchies, which could reflect a huge loss of talent and educational investment to both firms and economies.
With women still taking on more caring and housework responsibilities in the home than men, even in unprecedented times like during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, policymakers may need to focus on getting a more balanced gender division of careers within the family alongside other equal opportunity and affirmative action policies if they are to improve gender equality within the labor market.
For new academic research on this topic, see IZA's discussion papers on gender.
Gender inequalities in daily time allocation may have detrimental effects on earnings and well-beingMany countries experience gender differences, of various magnitudes, in the time devoted to paid work (e.g. market work time) and unpaid work (e.g. housework and childcare). Since household responsibilities influence the participation of women, especially mothers, in the labor market, the unequal sharing of unpaid work, with women bearing the brunt of housework and childcare, is one of the main drivers of gender inequality in the labor market. Understanding the factors behind these gender inequalities is crucial for constructing policies aimed at promoting gender equality and combating gender-based discrimination.MoreLess
To what extent can different attitudes toward competition for men and women explain the gender gap in labor markets?Mario Lackner, November 2021Differences in labor market outcomes for women and men are highly persistent. Apart from discrimination, one frequently mentioned explanation could be differences in the attitude toward competition for both genders. Abundant empirical evidence indicates that multiple influences shape attitudes toward competition during different periods of the life cycle. Gender differences in competitiveness will not only influence outcomes during working age, but also during early childhood education. In order to reduce the gender gap in educational and labor market outcomes, it is crucial to understand when and why gender gaps in competitiveness arise and to study their consequences.MoreLess
Despite major efforts at equal pay legislation, gender pay inequality still exists—how can this be put right?Solomon W. Polachek, October 2019Despite equal pay legislation dating back 50 years, American women still earn 18% less than their male counterparts. In the UK, with its Equal Pay Act of 1970, and France, which legislated in 1972, the gap is 17% and 10% respectively, and in Australia it remains around 14%. Interestingly, the gender pay gap is relatively small for the young but increases as men and women grow older. Similarly, it is large when comparing married men and women, but smaller for singles. Just what can explain these wage patterns? And what can governments do to speed up wage convergence to close the gender pay gap? Clearly, the gender pay gap continues to be an important policy issue.MoreLess
Gender diversity in teams Updated
Greater representation of women may better represent women’s preferences but may not help economic performanceGhazala Azmat, May 2019Women's representation on corporate boards, political committees, and other decision-making teams is increasing, this is in part because of legal mandates. Evidence on team dynamics and gender differences in preferences (for example, risk-taking behavior, taste for competition, prosocial behavior) shows how gender composition influences group decision-making and subsequent performance. This works through channels such as investment decisions, internal management, corporate governance, and social responsibility.MoreLess
Gender quotas for women on boards of directors improve female share on boards but firm performance effects are mixedNina Smith, December 2018Arguments for increasing gender diversity on boards of directors by gender quotas range from ensuring equal opportunity to improving firm performance. The introduction of gender quotas in a number of countries has increased female representation on boards. Current research does not justify gender quotas on grounds of economic efficiency. In many countries the number of women in top executive positions is limited, and it is not clear from the evidence that quotas lead to a larger pool of female top executives, who are the main pipeline for boards of directors. Thus, other supplementary policies may be necessary if politicians want to increase the number of women in senior management positions.MoreLess
- Program evaluation
- Migration and ethnicity
- Labor markets and institutions
- Demography, family, and gender
A mix of policies could be the solution to reducing discrimination in the labor marketMarie-Anne Valfort, May 2018Discrimination is a complex, multi-factor phenomenon. Evidence shows widespread discrimination on various grounds, including ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or beliefs, disability, being over 55 years old, or being a woman. Combating discrimination requires combining the strengths of a range of anti-discrimination policies while also addressing their weaknesses. In particular, policymakers should thoroughly address prejudice (taste-based discrimination), stereotypes (statistical discrimination), cognitive biases, and attention-based discrimination.MoreLess