The impact of COVID-19 on women in work
boost to OECD GDP from increasing female employment rates to match those of Sweden
boost to OECD female earnings from closing the gender pay gap
OECD average gender pay gap
boost to UK GDP from increasing regional employment rates to match those of the South West
The Women in Work Index 2021 is brought to you using the capability of Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting business.
International Women’s Day 2021 is an opportunity for us to celebrate the successes that women have achieved in the workplace.
But the pace of progress towards gender equality across the OECD remains slow. And COVID-19 threatens to reverse the important gains that have been made in the last decade, as the negative impacts of the pandemic are disproportionately being felt by women.
If nothing is done to directly address the impact of the pandemic on women or to tackle pre-existing gender inequalities in care, more women will leave the workforce permanently. The damage could take years to repair. Our analysis finds that even at double the rate of historical progress, the OECD will not catch up to its pre-pandemic equality growth path until 2030.
There is a huge prize to be gained from accelerating progress: our Index shows increasing female employment rates across the OECD could boost OECD Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by US$6 trillion, while closing the gender pay gap could boost OECD GDP by US$2 trillion.
We encourage women and men around the world to #ChooseToChallenge inequalities and gender biases towards women and work.
Explore the key findings from the research below and find out more about what governments and organisations can do to improve outcomes for women in work, and support a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19. You can also explore the Women in Work Index results at a country level using our interactive data tool.
Women’s jobs are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 because of existing gender inequalities in society, and the disruptive impact of the pandemic on service sectors with high levels of female employment.
The unemployment rate rose across the OECD in 2020, with women losing their jobs at a faster rate than men.
COVID-19 is also amplifying the unequal burden of unpaid care and domestic work carried by women. Caring responsibilities have already caused more women than men to exit the workforce. The longer this higher care burden on women lasts, the more likely women are to leave the labour market permanently - not only reversing progress towards gender equality, but also stunting economic growth.
The full impact of COVID-19 on women in work has not yet been realised. If no action is taken, the pandemic will reverse the progress made by the OECD towards gender parity in the workplace, with the Women in Work Index estimated to fall in 2020 and 2021.
It may not be possible to fully repair this damage, or ‘catch up’ to the path towards gender equality that existed before the pandemic. Our scenario analysis shows that the OECD needs progress to be twice as fast as its historical rate if it is to completely recover by 2030.
Immediate action is needed to undo the damage from COVID-19 to women’s economic empowerment. Policy responses to support the economic recovery need to specifically address the impacts of the pandemic on women. Governments and businesses must work together to address the underlying gender inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, close existing gender pay gaps, support female progression and leadership in the workplace, and fund employment and business opportunities for women in future growth sectors of the economy.