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How the US stacks up for working women

Which country would you want to work in?

International Women’s Day statistics

As International Women’s Day (IWD) approaches on March 8, we’ve compared 16 countries across 10 metrics to determine which is the best nation for working women.

A lot of IWD discussion centers on the gender pay gap. This ranking system also accounts for broader considerations that influence whether a country is a good place to work.

We’ve included such financial metrics as the percentage of savings women have for retirement compared to men, as well as quality-of-life measures like paid holiday leave and the average number of additional hours women spend on household work compared to men.

We sourced data from a range of government, private industry and prominent media sites, then ranked the countries best to worst for each metric on a scale of 1 to 16. The fewer points the country received overall, the more favorable the country for women who want to work.

Women account for only 6% of CEOs in S&P 100 companies

While women make up roughly 51.7% of the US workforce, only six women sit atop companies in the S&P 100 Index.

The number of female CEOs in the US is on par with those holding the top position at companies in the UK Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index and ahead of countries like New Zealand, which has two female CEOs at the top of its Stock Exchange 50 Index. As it stands, no women hold the top job in Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange 60 Index.

Name your daughter Alison if you want her to grow up to be CEO

If you want to give your daughter a leg up in the world of finance, consider naming her Alison, according to Finder’s analysis of the names of global CEOs. Alison is the only woman’s name with multiple entries, accounting for 14% of female CEOs in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

However, no Alison’s are CEO at S&P 100 companies … yet.

Not enough women in top jobs

While Alisons make up 14% of all female CEOs, women accounted for only 5.13% of CEOs in those countries. In fact, there are more CEOs named David or Dave (5.87%) in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand than there are women holding CEO roles.

So how does the US rank?

The US ranks poorly across the board for equality between genders, ranking in the bottom half for all metrics.

US’s rankings across every metric

Vacation leave14
Job security10
Extra household hours compared to men8
Cost of living10
Labor force participation rate11
Gender wage gap15
Female representation in boardrooms11
Average working hours15
Maternity leave16
Retirement funds compared to men15

The lowest ranking in the US

The US ranks dead last among 16 countries in one category — maternity leave — and second to last in a further three: retirement funds compared to men, average working hours and the gender wage gap.

It’s not hard to see why the US takes last place for maternity leave. It’s the only country on the list that doesn’t require paid parental time off. On average, women in the other 15 nations get 49.11 weeks in paid parental leave, the average heavily boosted by Finland, which offers 161 weeks of paid parental leave.

Highest rankings in the US

The US cracks the top 10 once across the 16 countries we analyzed, coming in at No. 8 for its top-ranked extra household hours compared to men. We found that on average, women do 1.6 more hours of household work a day than men do, which is slightly above the average of 1.45 hours across countries.

We’ll have what they’re having, thanks!

It’s clear Scandinavian countries are doing something right, taking out four of the top five rankings overall. According to data from the 36-member OECD, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland all rank well for maternity leave based on the total amount of paid time off for new moms and dads.

While it isn’t accounted for in the rankings, some Scandinavian countries provide additional bonuses. For instance, new parents in Finland receive a maternity kit from the government that includes all the clothes and supplies they need to welcome and look after their new addition to the family. Talk about a baby bonus!

Scandinavian countries also tend to report the smallest disparity between men and women when it comes to unpaid household chores.

Richard Laycock headshot

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


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Written by

Richard Laycock

Richard Laycock is Finder’s NYC-based senior content marketing manager & insights editor, spending the last decade data diving, writing and editing articles about all things personal finance. His musings can be found across the web including on NASDAQ, MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University, including a semester abroad at The Missouri School of Journalism (MIZZOU). See full profile

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