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The best (and worst) places to be a working woman

Mar 8, 2016 | News

(08 March 2016) – To mark the International Women’s Day, The Economist presented a “glass-ceiling index” which aims to reveal where women have the best chances of equal treatment at work.

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It combines data on higher education, labour-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs. It also includes paternity rights.

Unsurprisingly, the Nordic countries—Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland—come out top overall. In these countries, women are present in the labour force at similar rates to men. Finland has the largest share of women who have gone through higher education compared with men (49% of women have a tertiary degree, and 35% of men). Norway’s gender wage-gap (6.3%) is less than half the OECD average (15.5%).

Hungary ranks fifth, having the lowest gender wage gap, of 3.8%. Despite having few women on boards (11%) and in parliament (10%), Hungary has generous paid leave for mothers (71 weeks at 100% of recent pay) and low child-care costs.

At the bottom of the ranking are Japan, Turkey and South Korea, where men are more likely than women to have degrees, to be in the workplace and to hold senior positions. Their pay gap is also wide. In Japan and South Korea the favourable parental-leave system is mainly a response to their ageing populations and shrinking labour forces; but in other respects they are far behind the Nordic countries, whose commitment to sexual equality goes back a long way.

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