NEW DELHI: The most dynamic economies in the Asia-Pacific region, India and China, have seen women’s employment rates fall more markedly than men’s. This is despite women being better educated, having fewer children and being more likely to live in urban areas than 30 years ago, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a report on Thursday.
Published for the International Women’s Day on 8 March, the report titled A Quantum leap for gender equality: For a better future of work for all is the product of five years of work under the ILO’s “women at work centenary" initiative.
Pointing to demographics as one factor for falling women’s employment rates, the report said other causes at play were the rapid transition from agricultural to industrial sectors and the lack of care services and infrastructure. The report highlighted that women are still underrepresented at the top, a situation that has changed very little in the last 30 years.
Globally, less than a third of managers are women, although they are likely to be better educated than their male counterparts. The report shows that education was not the primary reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women. Rather, women do not receive the same dividends for education as men.
The report incorporates findings from ‘real time’ data, gathered by the professional networking website LinkedIn from across five countries, covering 22% of the global employed population in three different regions. The joint ILO-LinkedIn collaboration found that women with digital skills–currently a requirement for the most in-demand and highest paying jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)–are only between one-third and one-quarter of LinkedIn members.
However, it also revealed that the women who reach director-level positions get there faster—at least a year before their male counterparts.
Painting a grim picture of gender gap in employment in India, the report said that currently only 86,362 women LinkedIn members have reached director-level positions in India, while the number of men is 407,316. Besides, in India, only 23% of LinkedIn members with digital skills were women.
The report found that in the last 27 years the difference in the employment rates for men and women, globally, has shrunk by less than two percentage points.
In 2018, women were still 26 percentage points less likely to be in employment than men. In addition, between 2005 and 2015, the “motherhood employment penalty"— the difference in the proportion of adult women with children under six years in employment and women without young children—increased significantly by 38%.
“A number of factors are blocking equality in employment, and the one playing the largest role is care giving. In the last 20 years, the amount of time women spent on unpaid care and domestic work has hardly fallen, and men’s has increased by just eight minutes a day. At this pace of change, it will take more than 200 years to achieve equality in time spent in unpaid care work," said Manuela Tomei, director, ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department.