The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle presents a stark call to action, highlighting the little progress that has been made since the 2012 OECD report Closing the Gender Gap Now.
OECD countries identified the most important gender equality issues: violence against women, the gender wage gap, and unequal sharing of unpaid work. Many countries are now prioritising these issues in policy, and are also pushing to get more women into public and private sector leadership.
Women are less likely to be entrepreneurs, and female-owned businesses tend to earn less than male-owned ones. Gender gaps tend to increase with age, reflecting the crucial role that parenthood plays in gender equality. Gender inequalities pervade public life, as well: women are underrepresented in political office holding, on average, less than one-third of seats in lower houses of national legislatures in the OECD. Australia sits above the OECD average of 28.7 per cent, with women occupying 33.3 per cent of seats in the federal parliament.
According to the report, affirmative action is needed but this alone is insufficient to bring about gender equality. Countries need to invest in female leadership opportunities, for example, mentoring and network supports. At the same time, male role models in senior management need to drive change to combat gender stereotypes that continue to hamper women’s access to leadership.