The report found that in choice of higher-education degree programmes, women continue to be overrepresented in education and health and welfare fields, and underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM fields.
The percentage of women graduates in information and communication technologies was 1.7 percent, compared to 8.2 percent for male graduates. In engineering and manufacturing, the figures are 24.6 percent for men and 6.6 percent for women.
While gender segmentation continues in traditional education, data in this year’s report from the online-course provider Coursera showed that more women than ever were learning new skills online and that gender gaps were substantially lower in online courses.
In information and communications technologies, for example, the gender gap in online courses shrank between 2019 and 2021.
Dire Impact on Women
On economic indicators, however, the report found that the pandemic had exacerbated the gender gap, with the current cost-of-living crisis more likely to affect women.
In a press release, Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is impacting women disproportionately after the shock of labour-market losses during the pandemic and the continued inadequacy of care infrastructure.”
She added: “In face of a weak recovery, government and business must make two sets of efforts: targeted policies to support women’s return to the workforce, and women’s talent development in the industries of the future. Otherwise, we risk eroding the gains of the last decades permanently and losing out on the future economic returns of diversity.”
Middle East and North Africa
The report found that several countries in the Middle East and North Africa had made progress in closing gender gaps on some economic indicators. However, the region’s overall score remained about the same as in the previous edition of the report, which estimated that at the current rate of progress, it would take 115 years to achieve gender parity.
The Middle East and North Africa has closed 63.4 percent of its gender gap, the report found. The only region with a lower score was South Asia (62.4%). Even so, this represented an improvement for the MENA region, which had ranked last in previous lists.
The regions at the top of the scale were North America and Europe, with both having closed more than 76 percent of their gender gaps.
The United Arab Emirates was the highest-placed country in the Middle East and North Africa, having closed 71.6 percent of its gender gap. It was ranked 68th among the 146 countries covered this year, up from 72nd in 2021 and 120th in 2020.