Educated women do not automatically enjoy equal access to good jobs and equal pay as educated men, according to a study published in the Journal of African Development. While the gender education gap is closing, with women reaching 91 percent of the education men have, women’s employment rates are still 30 percent lower than men’s.

The study shows that policies must be created to intervene with this gender inequality. The research team explains that the lower employment and income stems from exclusion from high-paying jobs and unpaid household work including parental leave to care for children and leave to care for aging parents.

“Equal employment is crucial,” notes study author Stephanie Seguino. “Without equal access to quality work, women are vulnerable and disempowered. Moreover, their lower job status perpetuates the stereotype of men as the breadwinners of society.”


This is a graphic showing that despite gains in education, key gender gaps remain. Credit: University of Vermont

According to Seguino, a University of Vermont economist, the current education level statistics is higher than the 82 percent surveyed in 1990 and more than 95 percent of countries have the positive female/male education ratios, up from the 33 percent recorded in 1990.

Women actually make less than men. In the US alone, women earn about 77 percent less than men.

The researchers also found that job segregation has been exacerbated since 1990. For example, there has been a 20 percent drop in female/male ratio of employment in the industrial sector alone. Only 25 percent of women have reached the political representation men have. Nevertheless, political representation has increased up to 14 percent from 1990 to 2010.

“Without women, governments are more likely to spend taxpayer money in ways that disproportionately benefit men — or at least ignore the extra burdens on women,” Seguino says. “We need women in government to ensure their life conditions and needs are reflected in these policy and funding decisions.”

Gender inequality in regions like Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East fare worse than in other places. The researchers exemplify Canada’s gender quota, where female government representation has increased to 50 percent, showing how policy can improve gender equality.

Other countries including Rwanda and Norway also required gender quotas in the government and company boards, respectively.

The researchers suggest enacting the same gender quota as well as allocating budget for affordable childcare, paid parental leave, public transportation access, diverse hiring practices and rural health clinics. However, they assert that these policy changes for women should not be made at the expense of men.