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Best countries for working women
Which country would you want to work in?
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 fewer 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 the UK rank?
The UK ranked 11th overall, behind France (8), Canada (9) and the Netherlands (10).
The UK’s best individual ranking was for job security, which was ranked based on the percentage of workers at risk of unemployment, according to OECD data (2.6%). This was followed by the amount of paid holiday leave, with a total of 36 minimum paid days – not bad, unless you compare it to Austria’s 43 days.
The UK’s rankings across every metric
|Extra household hours compared to men||9|
|Average working hours||6|
|Retirement funds compared to men||9|
|Labour participation rate||10|
|Cost of living||11|
|Female representation in board rooms||7|
|Gender wage gap||13|
The UK’s worst rankings
The UK had one of the lowest scores for the gender wage gap, at a reported 16.8%. To compare, Denmark had the smallest gender pay gap at just 5.73%, while Singapore had the largest gap at 20%.
Although it’s not included in this ranking system, it’s also worth noting that the FTSE 100 has just 6 female CEOs listed. This means women were outnumbered by men named Stephen (or a variation of), with 7 FTSE 100 CEOs going by this name. However, British women actually fared better than some countries. For example, Canada doesn’t have a single female CEO on the S&P/TSX 60.
|Women vs men||Number of CEOs|
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.
|Country||Annual leave||Gender Wage Gap||Female Representation on Boards||Female Work Participation Rate||Extra household hours by women||Maternity Leave||Female Retirement Savings||Job Security||Average Weekly Working Hours||Cost of living|
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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