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WEF's 2023 Report: Gender Parity Progress Stalls Despite Gains

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Why it matters: The World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2023 Global Gender Gap Report shows that while gender parity was achieved before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace of progress has stalled due to a confluence of global crises.

Progress is critical as it affects half of the world's population and profoundly impacts socio-economic dynamics at the national and international levels.

Key Points:

  • The gender gap improved slightly by 0.3 percentage points from the previous year. However, the expected year for achieving full parity remains unchanged from the 2022 report and is projected to be 2154.
  • Notable progress has been made in educational attainment, with 117 of the 146 countries surveyed having closed at least 95% of the gap. However, significant gaps remain in economic participation (60.1% completed) and political empowerment (22.1% closed).
  • LinkedIn data reveals a significant underrepresentation of women in the STEM workforce (29.2%), highlighting an area of concern in labor market dynamics.
  • A persistent digital divide that impacts opportunities for men and women in online learning has been identified.

The Big Picture: The WEF's 17th annual report, which examines economic participation, educational attainment, health, survival, and political empowerment, emphasizes the need for a comprehensive, systematic approach to addressing gender gaps in various areas.

While there have been significant gains in educational parity, there are substantial gaps in economic participation, political empowerment, and gender representation in high-growth sectors such as STEM.

Iceland continues to lead the world in gender equality for the 14th consecutive year and is the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gender gap.

Regionally, Europe has surpassed North America in gender parity, reaching 76.3%.

In addition, Coursera's data shows that despite lower enrollment rates, once enrolled, women reach proficiency levels faster than men.

As global challenges multiply, a comprehensive approach is needed to accelerate gender parity and ultimately influence the trajectory of international socioeconomic development.