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The glass-ceiling index

The glass-ceiling index

“PRESS for progress” is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8th. As our sixth glass-ceiling index shows, disparity between countries remains wide. But women have made some progress towards equality in the workplace in the past year.

The index ranks the best and worst countries to be a working woman. Each score is based on average performance in ten indicators: educational attainment, labour-market attachment, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs (in managerial positions, on company boards and in parliament). 

Equality-conscious Nordics typically do well while workplace parity for women in Japan, South Korea and Turkey still lags badly. America under President Donald Trump rose from 20th to 19th place thanks in part to a higher female labour-force participation rate. This year Sweden ranks first, scoring well in female labour-force participation, which is over 80%, and the share of women in parliament (44%). 

Women broadly lifted their presence in the workplace. There has been an increase in the share of women in the labour force, with a tertiary education and of those taking business-school entrance exams, which are a pipeline for senior executive jobs. Yet advances may be slower than anticipated. MSCI, a financial-data firm, has pushed back its estimate by a year to 2028 for when the global share of women on boards will hit 30% (the figure is now 17.3%). 

Countries at the bottom of our index show signs of change in cultural attitudes. Last year the Global Summit of Women, a business and economic gathering of over 1,300 leaders from 60-odd countries, was held in Japan for the first time. The #MeToo movement, a social-media campaign against sexual assault and harassment, arrived in South Korea with fervour. Allegations of inappropriate behaviour against senior prosecutors, chaebol owners and board members there have since come to light as more women are feeling empowered. 

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Source: The Economist Latest News

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