Frequently Asked Questions - Dashboard 1: Life-Course Gender Gap

The dashboard approach has become popular for monitoring development outcomes. The 2016 Human Development Report experiments with two new colour-coded tables also termed dashboards, Life-course gender gap and Sustainable development. The colour-coded tables evaluate progress of human development by exposing the levels and changes of various indicators. The Life-course gender gap dashboard focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Sustainable development dashboard underscores the environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainable development. Though it does not convey a definitive conclusion on country achievements, the dashboard approach can be effective in presenting and visualizing data on selected indicators. The approach could be extended to other areas of human development.

Life-course gender gap dashboard, from a life-course perspective, assesses country’s overall achievements on gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. It contains a selection of indicators that indicate gender gaps and women’s empowerment over the life course—childhood and youth, adulthood and older age. The indicators refer to health, education, labour market and work, leadership, seats in parliament and social protection at different stages of life. Some indicators are presented only for women, and others are presented as a ratio of female to male values.

Life-course gender gap dashboard indicates gender gaps and women’s empowerment throughout the life course from childhood and youth, adulthood to older age as three separate dimensions.

The 14 indicators included are:

  • Childhood and youth:
    Sex ratio at birth, adolescent birth rate, female gross enrolment ratio at different levels of schooling (pre-primary, primary and secondary school), youth unemployment rate.
  • Adulthood:
    Maternal mortality ratio, population with at least some secondary education, total unemployment, female share of paid employment in non-agriculture, female share of legislators, senior officials and managers, female share of seats in parliament.
  • Older age:
    Life expectancy at age 50 for women, old age pension recipients.

Life expectancy at age 50 for women, old age pension recipients.
Some indicators are expressed in their original units only for women, for example, female primary school gross enrolment ratio (% of primary school-age female population), and others in the form of female to male ratio. In the former case we present indicators to emphasize achievements of girls and women; in the latter case we use ratios to emphasize deviations from the expected gender parity.

For some indicators—youth unemployment rate, total unemployment rate, population with at least some secondary education and old age pension recipients, the values are expressed as female to male ratio of the original expressions of these indicators as rates or population shares. Effectively, the interpretation of these ratios should be similar to the interpretation of odds ratios.

Example: Youth unemployment rate (% of labour force, ages 15-24), female to male ratio:
A value of this ratio less than 1 indicates that the unemployment rate for young females is lower than the unemployment rate for young males. And vice versa, a value higher of 1 indicates that the unemployment rate of young females is higher than the unemployment rates of young males.

For Canada, female to male youth unemployment ratio is 0.88, meaning that the unemployment rate of young females is lower. It is about 88 percent of the unemployment rate of young males. That is, in Canada, the odds that a young unemployed person is female is 0.88 times the odds that an unemployed young person is a man. At the same time for Singapore this ratio is 1.32, meaning that the unemployment rate of young females is about 32 percent higher than of young males. That is, in Singapore, the odds that a young unemployed person is female is 1.32 times the odds that such a person is a young male.

Life-course gender gap dashboard allows grouping of countries by each indicator, thus partially, contrary to a complete grouping by a hypothetical composite measure, which combines all listed indicators after making them commensurable. A good example of a complete grouping is the grouping of countries into four human development groups by the Human Development Index (HDI). Alternatively, one can group countries by each component indicator of the HDI and have four partial groupings. The complete grouping by a composite index depends on the way the component indicators are combined. The partial grouping does not require any assumption on normalization, weighting or the functional form of the composite index. The partial grouping may depend on the predefined values considered as thresholds needed for grouping, such as what is considered a good performance or as a target to be achieved.

Life-course gender gap dashboard is not using predefined thresholds or target values. Countries are divided according to the value of each indicator into three groups of approximately equal sizes (terciles). Thus there is the top third, the middle third and the bottom third of countries. We are not suggesting nor are we using any norms about gender equality, we are simply observing distributions and are using their tercile values. For details about partial grouping in this table, see Technical note 6 at http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2016_technical_notes.pdf

Three-colour coding is used to visualize partial grouping of countries by an indicator. According to the values of an indicator achieved by countries, they are divided into three groups of approximately equal size (terciles): the top third, the middle third and the bottom third. A distinct colour is attached to a group of countries with similar level of performance. The colour-coding scale graduates from darkest to lightest. The darker shade of green represents the top third group; the moderately shaded green represents the middle third; and the lighter shade of green represents the bottom third of countries. Partial grouping of countries applies to all indicators listed. Sex ratio at birth is an exception—countries are divided into two groups: the natural group (countries with a value between 1.04-1.07, inclusive), which uses darker shading, and the gender-biased group (all other countries), which uses lighter shading. When indicators are expressed as female to male ratio, countries with values in the vicinity of one are coloured as top performers in that indicator. Large gaps in favor of men are treated equally as those in favor of women. For some very skewed distributions (e.g., female primary school gross enrolment ratio and total unemployment rate, female to male ratio), the groups differ in sizes greatly. See Technical note 6 at http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2016_technical_notes.pdf for details about colour coding in this table.

For each indicator countries are divided into three groups of approximately equal size (terciles) according to the observed value—the top third, the middle third and the bottom third. Sex ratio at birth is an exception—countries are divided into two groups: the natural group (countries with a value between 1.04–1.07, inclusive) and the gender-biased group (all other countries). Deviations from the natural sex ratio at birth have implications for population replacement levels, which suggest possible future social and economic problems and may indicate gender bias. Countries with values of a parity index concentrated around 1 form the group with the best achievements in that indicator. Deviations from parity are treated equally regardless of which gender is overachieving. The intention is not to suggest thresholds or target values for these indicators. See Technical note 6 at http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2016_technical_notes.pdf for details about observed ranges of values and the number of countries in “tercile” groups for indicators in Life-course gender gaps dashboard.

Life-course gender gap dashboard could be an effective tool for measuring gender equality and women’s empowerment. The colour-coded table shows the levels and progress of gender gap on various indicators that indicate gender gaps and women’s empowerment over the life course—childhood and youth, adulthood and older age. The indicators refer to health, education, labour market and work, leadership, seats in parliament and social protection at different stages of life. Although this dashboard does not convey a definitive conclusion on country achievements as the composite indices, the GDI and the GII do, it could be a useful tool to highlight the level and progress of country’s achievements on various areas of gender equality and human development. The colour provides information about a country’s performance relative to others. It can be seen as a simple visualization tool as it helps the users to immediately picture the country’s performance.