Iceland most favourable for women workers, reveals The Economist’s annual glass-ceiling index

Study shows Iceland most favourable for women workers
A representational image of a group of working women. Photo courtesy: Unsplash

For the second year in a row, The Economist’s annual glass-ceiling index (GCI) shows that out of 29 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Iceland is the best country to be located in if you are a working woman.

The data was released at a time when the world is observing International Women’s Day on March 8.

The GCI is a yearly assessment of where women have the best and worst chances of equal treatment at work in countries in the OECD, a group of mostly rich countries.

Sweden, Norway, Finland and France round out the top five positions in the index.

The Nordic countries are particularly good at helping women complete university, secure a job, access senior positions, and take advantage of quality parental-leave systems and flexible work schedules.

Japan, Turkey and South Korea are last on the list for the 12th consecutive year running.

Rep image working woman
Representational image of working women.

This can, in part, be explained by societal norms in Asia still expecting women to choose between having a family or a career.

The biggest improvers from the 2023 index include Australia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Declining in their positions from last year include New Zealand, America and Britain, who all dropped by 3 or 5 places.

Highlights of The Economist’s 2024 glass-ceiling index

The wage gap remained the same, at 12 percent.

In Britain and America, the wage gap was higher than the OECD average (at 14.5 percent and 17 percent respectively) – the share of women in management went up slightly from 33.5 percent to 34.1 percent.

America is one of the strongest countries on this measure, at 42.6 percent, along with the Scandinavian countries.

 Iceland is also famous for the Aurora Borealis, popularly known as Northern Lights. Photo courtesy: Unsplash

The US continues to be the only OECD country to not offer any paid maternity or paternity leave, which every year drags them down the ranking.

Some of the most generous countries on this measure are in Scandinavia and Eastern European regions.

The percentage of women on boards hit 33 percent for the first time across the OECD.

The leaders in this measure are New Zealand, France and Denmark.

This is the twelfth year that The Economist has released its glass-ceiling index.

When it was launched in 2013 there were five indicators and 26 countries; today it consists of ten indicators including maternity and paternity leave for 29 OECD countries.  

Paternity and maternity leave are indicators used in the report.
Maternity and paternity leave are indicators used in the report.

Best and worst OECD countries to be a working woman 

1. Iceland 

2. Sweden 

3. Norway 

4. Finland 

5. France 

6. Portugal 

7. Poland 

8. Belgium 

9. Denmark 

10. Australia 

11. Austria 

12. Spain 

13. New Zealand 

14. Canada 

15. Slovakia 

16. Italy 

17. Ireland 

18. Czech Republic 

19. Britain 

20. Greece 

21. Germany 

22. United States 

23. Netherlands 

24. Hungary 

25. Israel 

26. Switzerland 

27. Japan 

28. Turkey 

29. South Korea