How Does Gender Inequality in Education Affects Employment

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HE210 – How does Gender Inequality in Education affect Employment?

According to Mao Tse Tung, ‘women hold up half the sky’. However, this phrase holds little truth in today’s world. Over the years, many women have made great strides in many areas but gender inequality still persists in many parts of the world, especially the rural areas, and to the disadvantage of women in particular. This has deeply affected the well-being, healthcare, education of women.

Education in today’s context is recognised across borders to benefit individuals and promote national development (USAID, 2008), as it equips individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to build up their countries’ economies. Thus, an economy with gender inequality in education is likely to be incapable of maximising its overall population to its benefits. To have gender inequality in education, it will not only imply a disparity in participation rates of individuals in that aspect due to gender, but also its adverse effects on the development of the economy such as a smaller working sector and creation of market failures.

We chose this topic because we recognised that there are several negative externalities associated to the trend and particularly, we hope to further analyse the situation on hand with regards to labor force and human capital and in turn explore the plausible solutions to break the vicious cycle that women are still facing now.

In this research paper, we will mainly be focusing on the causes for the above-mentioned trend, the provision vs quality of education, adverse impacts of the observed trend on employment which affects growth, and last but not least, possible solutions to it.

There are several reasons for the presence of gender inequality in education in most countries. The foremost factor limiting female education is poverty (Geeta Sharma). The extent of poverty in a large family plays a key role when it comes to deciding whether or not to enrol a child for education. Facing directs costs such as tuition fees, cost of textbooks, uniforms, transportation and expenses, and these costs may exceed the income of the family and as a result, girls are mostly the first to be denied schooling (Geeta Sharma).

Nevertheless, girls’ lack of access to education is not always purely related to poverty. In fact, the existence of such a social phenomenon can actually boil down to expectations, attitudes and biases in communities and families. This is because based on traditional customs, females have always been shaped to be a subordinate to men and their main responsibilities are to serve them well and to tend to household chores. Men, on the other hand, play the more superior and sole breadwinner role. Hence, these rooted expectations of the two genders can actually downplay the importance of female participation in education because parents might assume there will be deadweight loss for their families if they channel their limited resources to females, whom they expect, will not make full use of the knowledge learnt if educated.

This is evident in the case of China which has deep rooted Confucian’s teachings. Not taking income level into account, parents’ education expectations of their children on its own can create significant gender inequality in education. As shown in the table below, for County 1, County 3, and County 4, the majority of parents (between 62 to 75%) wanted post-secondary education for their children (Li and Tsang, 2002). In all three counties, a clearly higher percentage of parents wanted post-secondary education for boys than for girls: 79 to 71% in County 1, 79 to 72% in County 3, and 64 to 59% in County 4 (Li and Tsang, 2002). In County 2, the majority of parents wanted upper-secondary education for their children (Li and Tsang, 2002). Like the other three counties, a clearly higher percentage of parents wanted upper-secondary (and post-secondary) education for boys than for girls (Li and Tsang, 2002)....
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