May the best (wo)man win

8 March is the centenary of International Women’s Day. This year, we mark the occasion with a series of blog posts about initiatives to strengthen gender equality worldwide. In this post, Rudolf van der Berg of the OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Directorate discusses sex discrimination in management.

As we celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day, in OECD countries still only 5%-30% of senior management is female. This is often discussed in the context of right and wrong. But let’s look at it from the perspective of competences and economic performance.

The argument for there being so few women in management positions is that they just aren’t available and that the best person for the job needs to be promoted. However, with educational equality being the norm and girls and women actually performing better than boys and men in education, this argument seems to hold less than it did a hundred years ago on the first International Women’s Day. (more…)

Women: the future of our economies?

8 March is the centenary of International Women’s Day. This year, we mark the occasion with a series of blog posts about initiatives to strengthen gender equality worldwide. In this post, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría looks at women’s role in the economy.

On the 100th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day, have we achieved equal opportunity, even in the developed countries? No, women are not equal on the labour market, in entrepreneuship or in politics.

Women spend twice as much time as men in unpaid caring activities. Women are still under-represented in key education fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Women are less likely to work for pay, tend to work less hours, have lower hourly wages, are concentrated in less well-paid sectors, etc. They are also less likely to reach decision-making positions, in either public or private sectors. In politics, women still hold only 20% of seats in Parliaments; only a very few country show parity in their governments; and only 15 women are Head of states or governments. (more…)

It’s just a human

8 March is the centenary of International Women’s Day. This year, we mark the occasion with a series of blog posts about initiatives to strengthen gender equality worldwide.

On March 26 1911, the New York Times described how 141 workers, mainly girls, died in a fire in the Triangle Shirt Waist factory. Almost a century later, it described a similar tragedy in Bangladesh.

“The factory had only one main exit, and workers had to scramble through a lone narrow stairway to escape, while others jumped from windows”, said fire official Rashidul Islam. He could have been talking about New York, where one of the journalists described the distress of a veteran police officer trying to identify the dead bodies. The reporter asked him if one of the corpses was a man or a woman, but all he could say was that it was just a human. (more…)