As the world celebrates the achievements of women this month, what can be said about the progress of girls and young women in education, and of women in employment, throughout the world? As the third issue of the OECD's new brief series Education Indicators in Focus describes, girls and women are making solid gains on both fronts - though still more can be done to promote gender equality.
On the 2009 PISA assessment, for example, 15-year-old girls outperformed boys in every country, and on average by 39 score points - the equivalent of one year of schooling. Meanwhile, boys outperformed girls on the PISA mathematics assessment in most countries. In higher education, women are now in the majority among entrants to higher education across the world, with an estimated 66% expected to enter university-level programmes at some point during their lives. However, men are more likely than women to earn advanced research qualifications in most countries. Moreover, some fields of study - like engineering, manufacturing, and construction - are still branded as masculine, with comparatively few women graduates.
At the same time, women's strides in education have led to improved labour market outcomes for women overall. Across the world, gender gaps in employment between men and women have narrowed at every level of education, and are narrowest among those with a higher education qualification - shrinking from 11 percentage points in 2000 to 9 percentage points in 2009.