The Glass Ceiling May Be Cracking, But It Has By No Means Shattered

Every year The Economist calculates a "glass ceiling index," which shows in which countries women have the best chances of equal treatment at work.  The Index uses data on higher education, labor-force participation, male-female wage gap, child-care costs, maternity rights, business-school applications, and representation in senior jobs and in parliament to calculate a score for each country.  Not all indicators are given the same consideration: child-care costs, for instance, is not weighted as heavily as some of the other indicators, because not all working women have children.  Each country's score, then, is a weighted average of its performance on nine indicators.  Data are from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This year The Economist ranked 28 countries according to their glass-ceiling index score.  Overall, the OECD average paints a mixed picture: there is now a higher share of women in the labor force, in higher education, on boards and in parliament. "But the pay gap between men and women has widened, there are fewer women in senior management and the average maternity leave has come down. The glass ceiling may be cracking, but has by no means shattered." 

Finland, Norwary, and Sweden scored highest, suggesting that these are the countries where women have the best chances of equal treatment at work.

Turkey, on the other hand, ranked "among the worst places in the OECD to be a working woman. It has the lowest share of senior management (just 10%) and the largest gap between male and female labour-force participation. In South Korea and Japan, too, the gaps in labour-force participation and pay remain unusually wide, though South Korea scores top for net child-care costs, thanks to generous subsidies."

The interactive chart on allows users to move the sliders to change the indicator weights.  Hovering over a country displays that country's score on each indicator.  The United States, for example, scored 58.2 (the best possible score is 100) and ranked 18th out of 28.  It scored highest for its share of senior managers who are women, but lags well behind Nordic countries on every other indicator.

Read more: resources:
Labor participation rate, female (% of female population ages 15+) (
Economy Track: Employment to Population Ratio ( (
Occupational Sex Segregation and Earnings Differences (
Education in America (
Exploring the Second Shift: A Data-driven Learning Guide
Frederique Laubepin

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