How Singapore 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. We’ve included 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.

So how does Singapore rank?

While Singapore has a lot to offer working women, when compared to other top countries, Singapore performs poorly.

Singapore’s rankings across every metric

Labour force participation rate6
Gender wage gap16
Cost of living14
Average working hours16
Holiday leave16
Extra household hours compared to menNA
Maternity leave13
Retirement funds compared to men3
Female representation in board rooms15
Job securityNA

Singapore’s lowest rankings

Singapore received the bottom ranking across three metrics: total holiday leave, the gender pay gap and average working hours. Singaporeans receive 17 days of paid holiday leave, with 7 days of annual leave and 10 paid public holidays. By comparison, Austrians enjoy a whopping 43 days of holiday leave, thanks to 30 days of annual leave and a further 13 days of paid public holidays.

Not only do Singaporeans work for a bigger portion of the year, they also work longer hours while they are at work. According to data from the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM), people in Singapore work an average of 45 hours per week – 20 hours longer than people in the Netherlands, which ranked first for this metric.

Singapore also ranked poorly for the percentage of women filling board positions (15) as well as cost of living (14).

Singapore’s highest rankings

But it’s not all bad news. Singapore ranked third for the difference women have saved for retirement compared to men, right behind Sweden and Austria – which tied for first place.

Singapore also ranked relatively well for female participation in the workforce at sixth place. According to World Bank data, 60.31% of Singaporean women participate in the working world, ahead of Australia at 59.18% and the UK at 56.86%.

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 out 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, which 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.

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