Though they now receive almost as much education as men, women are still paid less than their male counterparts, according to a recent study.
The study, which explored decades of data from more than 150 countries, finds that women have reached 91 percent of the education that men have, but only 70 percent of their rate of employment, and just 25 percent of political representation.
The findings challenge the assumption that education, a hallmark of international development efforts, translates into equal access to high-paying jobs and suggest greater policy interventions are required to close political and workplace gender gaps.
According to study author Stephanie Seguino of University of Vermont, the belief that markets will fix these gaps fails to account for centuries-old gender norms and male hierarchies that education alone can’t change.
“Clearly, education alone is not enough to solve this problem,” says Prof. Seguino. “We need concrete policy tools to break down gender barriers, because the market’s ‘invisible hand’ is not working.”
The study offers two key reasons for women’s lower employment and income: greater exclusion from high-paying jobs, and a disproportionate amount of unpaid household work, including care for children and aging parents.
Seguino said that policy changes are needed to level the playing field, including paid parental leave, affordable daycare and potentially even gender quotas.
The study is published in Journal of African Development.