VSE research is revealing how gender continues to be a key factor in economic status and business performance. From work and educational opportunities to executive boardroom decisions, gender remains more influential than we may think. Not surprisingly, this research proves social and societal barriers and norms are the biggest hindrances to unlocking the full potential of both men and women in the economy.
The VSE is working to identify the economic costs of gender discrimination, with researchers such as Dr. Mukesh Eswaran addressing this and other issues issues. In his award-winning book, Why Gender Matters in Economics, Eswaran reveals how economics interacts with biology, anthropology, politics and psychology to hold back women, and the nations they live in. Click here to read some questions and answers with Eswaran about his research findings.
VSE colleague Dr. Kevin Milligan is concerned about the ‘mother-father-gap’ here in Canada—the fact that mothers of young children work significantly less than their male counterparts. “If you happen to be an educated, intelligent woman who wants to work outside the home and society forces you into the role of stay-at-home mom, then that’s not an efficient match,” he says.
Milligan adds that while policies like parental leave and subsidized childcare are having a small impact on the employment gap, it would be better for the economy to shift societal norms that still see a woman’s place as in the home—at least when it comes to raising young children. Milligan is also investigating how Canadian parents spend more learning time with their daughters than their sons, contributing to the current “boy crisis” that sees boys struggling to thrive at different educational levels.
Dr. Nicole Fortin in VSE contributed to the ground-breaking research presented in the 2015 World Happiness Report by looking at how gender and age affect feelings of happiness for individuals, and societal well-being overall, across the globe. One of Fortin’s findings was that women in Canada show higher life-satisfaction levels than Canadian men at a level that is statistically significant. Her research, and the work of the other contributors to the report, is now being considered as a game-changer for governments internationally when they consider policies for the well-being of their citizens.
With their clear and cogent findings, these VSE researchers and their colleagues are proving that gender equity is not just an ethical principle—it’s a crucial aspect that allows societies, economies, businesses and individuals to thrive.