Earth & Conservation

What Are The Best Countries to Work in as a Woman?

Overall, women still have less opportunity in the workplace than men, but a lot of countries are getting it right.

<p>Photo: ThinkStock</p>

When it comes to equality for women in the workplace, many countries are still stuck in the past, but a few have really started to raise the bar. The Economist ranked countries around the world based on where women have the best opportunity to be treated as equals in their jobs.

They compared factors like higher education, labor force participation, salary, childcare costs and maternity rights. This year, they also took paternity rights into consideration, noting that in countries where men take time off after their child is born, women are more likely to return to work and female employment is higher overall.

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Nordic countries ranked the highest this year, including Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, which isn't all too surprising since these countries have been committed to sexual equality for a long time. In Finland, 49% of women have a post-secondary degree, but only 35% of men do. Norway's gender wage gap is only at 6.3%. For comparison, the gender wage-gap in the U.S. is 21%, meaning that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 79 cents.

In all of the Nordic countries, women are part of the labor force at a similar rate to men. Norway, Iceland and Sweden also have voluntary political party quotas. Sweden has 44% of its parliamentary seats occupied by women, the highest rate in the world. While Hungary does not have much representation for women in politics, they still ranked 5th on the list because of they offer 71 weeks of paid maternity leave.

The lowest-ranking countries were Japan, South Korea and Turkey. In these countries, women were less likely than men to have a degree, to hold a senior position and to be present in the workforce at all. Japan and South Korea have generous parental-leave options, but in many ways they are still far behind the Nordic countries.