Rethinking policy design

question-mark3What would make policy more effective?

question-mark3Can we encourage constituents to respond more intuitively to policy goals?

question-mark3How do behavioural science tools improve policy implementation?


Most policy advisors and policy makers recognize the importance of achieving gender equality in the labour market. It is a core tenet of the ILO mandate to provide decent work for all. We also know the complexity of making and implementing employment policy means the final outcome may not always integrate gender as fully as hoped. Unfortunately, gender equality often falls between the cracks.

Governments around the world have adopted behavioural science as one pathway to building more effective policy, and it could be a key to keep gender (and other important missions) on the agenda. Behavioural Insights teams are being founded to use the power of nudging and other behavioural science tools to build policy based on how people behave and make decisions.

Nudging is a tool that makes small changes in how options are presented in order to encourage better decisions. Nudging has so far been used to great effect in a variety of policy contexts, from health to sustainability to taxation, and it is beginning to emerge as a way to increase the impact of employment policy on gender equality.

There are many types of effective nudging techniques. We have identified six in particular, described below, with  strong potential to impact gender equality on the ground in designing and implementing policy and programs. We invite you to explore examples of these techniques in action – in the menu on the left – and consider how you can use these techniques to make small, relevant interventions in your work, and to nudge people towards decent work for men and women around the world.

This site is a first exploration of the use of nudging techniques within the field of policy design and gender equality. Because the subject is generally new, the examples provided are initial insights and more examples might follow. If you  happen to find an example you would like to contribute, we invite you to send an email to

Nudging Techniques for Gender Equality


Correct for bias

Design processes (e.g. hiring, monitoring, evaluation) so decisions are not influenced by the gender of constituents, and ensure gender is not a selection criteria.



Change how we define roles and public spaces (from office spaces, to how we interact and set goals), to avoid unconscious stereotypes that lock people into gender roles.


Mindfully setting the default

Frame decisions so people are automatically “opted in” – without removing the ability to opt out – to make people more likely to make the “right” choice without doing a thing.



Be transparent about what is possible and what progress has been made, to reveal gender gaps and motivate people to “keep up” with their peers who are performing well in terms of equality and diversity.



Gender impartial approach

Consciously use neutral language and images to transcend gendered expectations of people’s roles and behaviours.



Role modeling

Seeing is believing; provide role models for positive behaviours, to help embed them into our way of thinking and social fabrics. From the pictures on the walls to the people in leadership positions.