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OECD countries should tackle gender wage gap

Published on 10/03/2010

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.  Despite numerous improvements in women’s employment outcomes, there are still many gender gaps that need to be addressed. One such gap is the pay gap between men and women.

The report shows while 62 percent of women across OECD countries are in the work force, they earn 18 percent less than men. The report also reveals that one out of four women works part-time and only six percent of men do so. Only one-third of managerial posts are held by a woman.

These gender differences widen when they have children since women are more likely to adjust their employment practices upon the arrival of a child much more than men.

According to the report, gender wage gaps vary across countries. Japanese and Korean men earn about 30 percent more than women, but in Belgium and New Zealand the gap is below 10 percent. One of the reasons for lower earnings is that women more often work in lower-paid jobs.
The report also 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 four and six 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.

For a more detailed overview of gender differences, click here to read the Gender Brief.