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.
Sorting across workplaces, and unequal rewards within them, are major causes of the gender wage gap
In most developed countries, women have closed the gap in educational attainment and labor market experience, yet gender wage gaps persist. This has led to an increased focus on the role of employers and employment practices. In particular, research has focused on the types of workplace where men and women work, their promotion prospects and the extent to which they are rewarded differently for similar work. Understanding the relative importance of these features, and the mechanisms that generate them, is necessary to design effective policy responses.MoreLess
Firms interested in workplace diversity should consider the post-hiring stage and why some minority employees choose to leave
Mackenzie Alston, May 2023While many firms have recognized the importance of recruiting and hiring diverse job applicants, they should also pay attention to the challenges newly hired diverse candidates may face after entering the company. It is possible that they are being assessed by unequal or unequitable standards compared to their colleagues, and they may not have sufficient access to opportunities and resources that would benefit them. These disparities could affect the career trajectory, performance, satisfaction, and retention of minority employees. Potential solutions include randomizing task assignments and creating inclusive networking and support opportunities.MoreLess
An unequal distribution of resources within the family is a special concern for female poverty
Luca Piccoli, February 2023Transition to a market economy is accompanied by a period of greater economic uncertainty. Women are likely to suffer substantial disadvantages from this uncertainty compared to men as they are, for example, more likely to lose their job. This not only implies a monetary loss for the entire family, but also degrades female bargaining power within the household, possibly further aggravating their well-being. When intrahousehold inequality—an unequal distribution of resources among family members—exists, female poverty might be significantly larger than what can be deduced using standard household-based poverty measures.MoreLess
Belief in the existence of gender differences in risk attitudes is stronger than the evidence supporting them
Antonio Filippin, October 2022Many experimental studies and surveys have shown that women consistently display more risk-averse behavior than men when confronted with decisions involving risk. These differences in risk preferences, when combined with gender differences in other behavioral traits, such as fondness for competition, have been used to explain important phenomena in labor and financial markets. Recent evidence has challenged this consensus, however, finding gender differences in risk attitudes to be smaller than previously thought and showing greater variation of results depending on the method used to measure risk aversion.MoreLess
How and why do the careers of men and women differ? What policies could reduce the differences?
Antti Kauhanen, October 2022The gender wage gap is largely due to men and women holding different kinds of jobs. This job segregation is partly driven by gender differences in careers in corporate hierarchies. Research has shown that the careers of men and women begin to diverge immediately upon entry into the labor market and that subsequent career progress exacerbates the divergence. This divergence of career progress explains a large part of the gender wage gap. Understanding how and why the careers of men and women differ is necessary to design effective policies that can reduce the gender differences in hierarchies.MoreLess
Gender inequalities in daily time allocation may have detrimental effects on earnings and well-being
Many 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