How Canada stacks up for working women

20 Feb 2019

International Women’s Day Statistics

In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD), we’ve compared 16 countries across 10 metrics to determine which nation is the best country for working women.

While a lot of IWD discussion is centred on the gender pay gap, this ranking system also takes into account broader considerations that influence whether a country is a good place to work. These categories include financial metrics such as the percentage of retirement savings women have compared to men as well as quality of life measures, such as 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 different government, private industry and prominent media sites and then ranked the countries for each metric on a scale of 1 (best score) to 16 (worst score). The less points the country received overall, the more favourable the country is considered for women who want to work. Here’s how they scored.

So how does Canada rank?

Canada ranked ninth overall, after France (8) and ahead of the Netherlands (10).

Canada’s best individual ranking was fourth place for the amount of extra household hours women do compared to men, followed by fifth place for both the female participation rate in the workforce and the amount of retirement savings women have compared to men.

Canada’s rankings across every metric

Extra household hours compared to men4
Maternity leave6
Average working hours8
Retirement funds compared to men5
Labour participation rate5
Cost of living8
Female representation in board rooms8
Job security11
Gender wage gap14
Holiday leave15

Canada’s worst rankings

Canada has one of the lowest scores for the amount of holiday leave given to employees (15th place, right behind the United States), with only 10 days of paid annual leave and 9 public holidays. To compare, Austria takes the prize with the most days of annual holiday leave, with a total of 43 days. Canada also ranked poorly for the gender wage gap (14th place) and job security (11th place).

Although it’s not included as a metric in this ranking system, it’s also worth noting that the S&P/TSX 60 does not have one female CEO. For comparison, the ASX 100 has seven female CEOs, and the FTSE 100 and the S&P 100 both have six female CEOs.

Sources: Finder sourced and analysed data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the amount of unpaid household hours, maternity and parental leave benefits, and the percentage of people at risk of losing their job. Data on the female participation rate in the workforce was sourced from the World Bank.

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

With Scandinavian countries taking four of the top five rankings overall, it’s clear they’re doing something right. According to data from the OECD, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland all ranked well for maternity leave, which was ranked based on the total amount of paid maternity and parental leave.

While it wasn’t accounted for in the rankings, some Scandinavian countries provide extra bonuses in addition to these benefits. New parents in Finland even receive a maternity package that includes all the clothes and supplies they need to look after the newest addition to their family. Talk about a baby bonus!

Scandinavian countries also tended to have the smallest disparity between unpaid household work done by women compared to men.

Worst of the best

Singapore ranked as the worst country for working women compared to other top countries. Notably, it took the bottom spot for the average weekly working hours at 45 hours a week and for the gender pay gap. It also ranked in the bottom half of countries for maternity leave (10th place).

The United States came in second last overall, right after Australia. The United States didn’t rank in the top half for any of the metrics analysed, and had some of the worst rankings for maternity leave, annual leave, the gender pay gap, and the retirement savings gap.

Australia also ranked poorly in terms of women’s retirement savings, as well as maternity leave benefits. Australian women receive 18 weeks of paid maternity and parental leave, according to data from the OECD.

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