The Best and Worst Countries to be a Working Woman According to The Economist

Seriously, ladies – why are we not living in or around Scandinavia yet?

We’ve given you enough proof in the past, like that time when we told you that being Scandi was pretty dandy in most aspects of life and society.

And now those Nordic countries have gone and done it again, with Iceland topping the leaderboard for the ‘Best Place in the World to Be a Working Woman’.

Norway, Sweden and Finland came second, third and fourth, respectively.

To mark the United Nations’ International Women’s Day on March 8, The Economist revealed some data on where women have the best chance of equal treatment at work based on factors like pay, maternity leave, and representation in senior jobs.


A view of the glass-ceiling index from the Economist. For the full interactive version, visit their site.

The “glass-ceiling index” showed Iceland to have the largest amount of woman on company boards, with an almost equal 44 per cent of the total.

Norway had an impressively small 6.3 per cent pay gap, less than half the OECD average of 15.5 per cent. Hungary, in fifth place, had the overall smallest gap of all countries on the list, with a miniscule 3.8 per cent. The country also has the highest length of maternity leave – 71.1 weeks at 100 per cent of recent pay, in addition to low childcare costs.

Finland had the largest share of women to have gone through higher education (49 per cent) compared with men (35 per cent) who have a tertiary degree. In Sweden 44 per cent of women have seats in Parliament, one of the highest rates on the list.

This year the index introduced paternity rights, and while Japan and South Korea otherwise ranked lowly on the list, they were first and second respectively in terms of paid leave for fathers. Japan gives dads a generous 30.4 weeks paid leave, while South Korea offers 16.1 weeks. Hower, women were much less present in the workforce. In third place was runner up Norway, with 9.9 weeks off for fathers.

So, how did Canada fare? Well, we just missed out on the top ten, taking 11th place in the ranking. The gender wage gap was a pretty hefty 19.2 per cent, and only 19.4 per cent of women are on company boards. On the bright side, 36.2 per cent were in senior managerial positions – only a little below that of Iceland (39.9 per cent).

Canada’s female participation in the labour force was well below the OECD average of -16.9 per cent, at -7.1 per cent. But the paternity leave situation leaves a little to be desired – fathers get 0 weeks at full rate.

So while there’s little shame in Canada’s position in the table, a report card would probably read, “Shows great promise, but must try harder” – as indeed would most of the countries on the list.