No Match Found
Average OECD gender pay gap between men and women (median hourly earnings)
Over 50 years
to close the gender pay gap at historical rate of progress
GDP gain from increasing the female employment rate across the OECD to match that of Sweden's
UK position on the 2021 Women in Work Index, down five places from 2020
If progress towards gender equality at work continues at its historical rate, an 18-year old woman starting work today will not see pay equality in her working lifetime. Our Women in Work Index shows progress towards gender equality at work across the OECD has been exceedingly slow over the last 10 years, with a persistent gender pay gap of 14%, down only 2.5 percentage points since 2011. Improvement in the Index this year is a symptom of economic recovery in post COVID-19 labour markets, and does not demonstrate genuine progress towards gender equality.
The motherhood penalty - the loss in lifetime earnings experienced by women raising children - has become the most significant driver of the gender pay gap. Prompted by the underemployment and slower career progression women experience on returning to work after childbirth, it is perpetuated by the unfair share of childcare women take on in almost every country around the world.
In the UK, the childcare affordability crisis and low take up by fathers of shared parental leave threatens to exacerbate gender inequality, and is pricing a growing number of women out of work. The shared parental leave system was introduced to encourage fathers to take more parental leave. However, it has had very low uptake from families, estimated at just 2-8% in 2019.
Affordable childcare is critical in helping to ease the pressure on mothers and families, and reduce women’s unpaid care load. This needs to be complemented with policy solutions that aim to redistribute unpaid childcare more equally between women and men.Redesigning parental leave policies to support a ‘dual earner-dual carer model’ would help to shift underlying societal attitudes around gender roles and care over time.
Our economic analysis suggests an effective Equal Paid Parental Leave system in the UK would benefit women, as well as men, families, wider society, and employers. We have quantified some of the expected benefits to women and across society of fathers taking more parental leave. Our analysis begins to explore the potential economic and societal return on investment of moving towards a ‘dual-earner dual-carer’ model and a system of Equal Paid Parental Leave in the UK.
Our analysis shows that if fathers took more parental leave, there would be sizable and long-term benefits for women, families and society in the UK.
Explore the key findings from our research within our report below.
You can also explore the Women in Work Index results at a country level using our interactive data tool, to see how OECD countries perform on key metrics measuring women’s employment outcomes.
If you have any questions about our research, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
“An 18 year old woman entering the workforce today will not see pay equality in her working lifetime. At the rate the gender pay gap is closing, it will take more than 50 years to reach gender pay parity.
If the rebound from COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we can’t rely on economic growth alone to produce gender equality - unless we want to wait another 50 years or more. We must design and develop policy solutions that actively address the underlying causes of the inequality that exist today.”
Larice Stielow, Senior Economist, PwC UK
OECD performance: The top three performers this year are Luxembourg, New Zealand and Slovenia.
The UK fell five places on the Index: from ninth place in 2020, to 14th place in 2021; its Index score decreased by 1.8 points to 69.0. This was predominantly due to a widening gender pay gap and a fall in the female labour force participation rate. The UK remains 3.5 points above the OECD average (65.5 points) on the Index, and it ranks the highest of the G7 economies (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the United States).
Northern Ireland is the highest performing UK region on the Index this year, overtaking the South West which was the top performing region for the three previous years (and now sits in second place, just in front of Scotland). Northern Ireland’s strong performance is largely driven by its small gender pay gap (just 5%), which is a third of the size of the gender pay gap in the UK overall.