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Gender gap shrinking in schools, workplace: report

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Global gender gaps have significantly decreased over the past 10 years, particularly in early education and the labour market, according to a new report published on Wednesday. - PHOTO: AFP

[Paris] Global gender gaps have significantly decreased over the past 10 years, particularly in early education and the labour market, according to a new report published on Wednesday.

The report, by the Boston Consulting Group for the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society, showed that primary school attendance (age six to 11), had reached 91 per cent worldwide.

And the United Nations Gender Parity Index showed that while there were 95 girls for every 100 boys in 2000, that ratio has now improved to 98 girls per 100 boys.

However, secondary school attendance lags behind for both sexes, with girls still less likely to attend, the report said.

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In OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) rich countries, there is still a large gap in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the university level.

And only 43 per cent of women who study science will go on to pursue a career in physics, mathematics, or engineering, versus 71 per cent of men.

The STEM fields are expected to face large shortages of workers, because of a late retirement age and low fertility rates in developed countries.

But if as many women as men pursued STEM subjects at the university level, up to four million more women could access STEM jobs by 2025, the report said.

Large strides have also been made in closing the gender gap in the workplace with women's participation in the labour force growing overall from 54 per cent in 2000 to 57 per cent in 2012.

Men's participation has remained steady at 81 per cent over the decade.

The number of women-run businesses has also increased - with 41 per cent of businesses run by women in 2011 versus 35 per cent in 2004.

While the average global participation has increased, some countries have seen a drop in women's share of the labour market, like India (from 36 to 30 per cent), China (77 to 70 per cent) and the US (70 to 67 per cent).

"If we take measures to encourage female entrepreneurship, the number of women entrepeneurs could increase by 53 million by 2025, generating 28 million jobs worldwide," said Agnes Audier, the associate director of BCG in Paris. AFP

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