Welcome to Gender Action Portal
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With its Gender Action Portal, the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School provides scientific evidence—based on experiments in the field and in the laboratory—on the impact of policies, strategies and organizational practices aimed at closing gender gaps in the areas of economic opportunity, politics, health, and education to help translate research into action and take successful interventions to scale.
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Women contribute to the formal and informal labor force, yet disparities in wealth and access to paid work persist across countries and sectors, and no country has closed the gender wage gap. Analyzing bargaining power and autonomy within the global marketplace and within the household enables decision makers to better understand the economic gender gap and determine what policies can close the gap in opportunities, earnings, and wealth.
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Although women constitute more than half the world’s population, they make up less than 20 percent of parliamentarians worldwide. Understanding the relationship between gender and politics – both representation and participation – sheds light on financial, social, and cultural barriers to women’s equal participation in society. Interventions based on evidence can help us craft policies and programs to close the gender gap in political participation and representation.
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Women’s health, including sexual and reproductive health, mental illness, and infectious and noncommunicable diseases, can be impacted by gender-specific risk factors like socioeconomic status, lack of self-efficacy, and stigma. Scientific evidence helps identify interventions that create healthier outcomes for women and girls.
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Over the last half-century, women have made significant strides in education, even completing more schooling than men in many developed nations. In developing countries, however, women continue to experience barriers to completing school. By understanding how women get access to education, learn, and excel academically, we can identify ways to empower women to seize schooling opportunities and reshape institutions to close the remaining educational gender gaps.
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Ability to perform in school may be moderated by the implicit beliefs of teachers, families, and classmates about girls’ and boys’ relative intellectual abilities as well as external social pressures. Discover strategies and policy designs that level the playing field and provide the best opportunities for success to both girls and boys at all stages of education.
Access to Education
In many parts of the world, girls and women face barriers to attending school. These include safety concerns, social mores, and non-school related responsibilities. When there are economic barriers to schooling, families must decide how to use limited resources and whether to invest in education. Find tools and practices that have worked (and failed) around the world to ensure girls’ access to school.
At the root of much of today’s gender inequality is bias – both implicit and explicit. It shapes societies’ and individuals’ thinking, reinforcing notions of right and wrong for people of a particular gender. Gender stereotype violators, both male and female, are treated more harshly, while stereotype conformists can sometimes experience advantages. Learn what these stereotypes are and the practices and policies that can help us move beyond them to experience our full potential.
What is the economic value of gender diversity in organizations, politics and society? Explore the relationship between diversity and prosperity, and how to leverage this critical asset toward a prosperous future for all.
In every country in the world, a significant gender wage gaps exists and persists. Discover groundbreaking research that lends insight into what causes – and diminishes – the gender wage gap.
The gender difference in willingness to compete has been a burgeoning area of academic interest because competition is central to success in education, business, politics, and other leadership positions. Identifying when and how women and men are most willing to compete will inform structural designs to maximize participation and individuals’ contributions. Identify policies and practices we can employ to overcome this gender gap.
Organizations can benefit from both women’s and men’s talent, intellect, and perspectives. Examine how gender affects decision making and discover the skills and procedures that help people become better, more aware, decision makers.
Entrepreneurship & Microfinance
What happens when you provide women access to commercial economic activities through microfinance and lending? Research in this area examines how particular financial products and designs work, for whom, and why.
Gender-based violence is both a result and cause of gender-based inequities, encompassing sexual assault, human trafficking, and intimate partner violence. It is a pervasive issue touching many elements of society, impacting both women and men. Learn about interventions to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence.
The rise of women into society's most powerful leadership roles – across sectors and around the globe – ranks among the most profound social transformations of recent decades. Learn about strategies to best capitalize on women’s talent and leadership in politics, society, and the global economy.
Within gendered systems, women can learn how to negotiate to overcome behavioral expectations and improve their financial and social outcomes, while structural changes to organizations and businesses can make negotiations more gender equal. Learn the techniques women can use and the policies organizations can implement to create a more level playing field.
Women make up more than half the world’s population, yet are severely, and almost universally, underrepresented in elected office. Talented individuals who would make effective public leaders are being left out of the pool of available candidates due to financial, social, and legal barriers. Discover interventions to close the gender gap and leverage women’s skills for the public good.
Poverty is a multi-faceted problem that stems from structural and social barriers, stigmas, and unequal resource allocation. Learn about the innovative strategies organizations and governments are using to reduce the suffering of poverty and its disproportionate harm on women.
Quotas are an increasingly popular – and sometimes controversial – approach to narrowing gender gaps, but are they effective? Explore research testing the effects of quotas in both business and politics.
Reproductive and Sexual Health
Lack of access to information and contraceptives, as well as diminished autonomy over fertility choices, can lead to sexually transmitted infections, early birthing ages, and untreated health conditions. Learn about public policy interventions that successfully prevent the spread of STIs, as well as recommendations on how successful interventions can be scaled up and implemented in larger populations.
Subconscious biases often prevent employers from hiring and retaining members of minority populations, specifically women, despite their qualifications. It is necessary to understand how to overcome these innate barriers in order to select and maintain the most efficient and capable workforce.