First introduced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2006, the Global Gender Gap Index is a measurement of gender-based disparities in individual countries tracked over time. Countries are ranked on the progress they have made to close the gender gap in four categories: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. The highest possible score on the index is 1 and means that a nation has fully eradicated the gender gap in every measured category. (No country has ever actually done so). While no single measure can obviously capture the complete situation, the report identifies those countries that are role models in equitably allocating their resources between men and women, regardless of the overall level of those resources.
The 2014 Global Gender Gap report was released today. Iceland, where 20 out of the past 50 years there has been a female head of state, ranked first on WEF’s index with a score of 0.859. The country was closely followed by its Nordic neighbours: Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The US finished with a score of .7464, putting it behind countries like Canada, South Africa and France, but ahead of other developed countries like the UK and Australia.
In the UK, the score (0.738) has decreased compared to last year but has slightly improved compared to 2006. The UK is the third highest-ranking country in terms of length of maternity leave (273 calendar days), and is also among the five countries with the highest mean age of women at the birth of the first child (30 years old).
The report also highlights positive findings from the corporate world. As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF prefaced:
“Some of the most compelling findings regarding the benefits of gender equality are emerging from companies. For example, companies that include more women at the top levels of leadership tend to outperform those that don’t. With a growing female talent pool coming out of schools and universities, and with more consumer power in the hands of women, companies who fail to recruit and retain women—and ensure they have a pathway to leadership positions—undermine their long-term competitiveness. And for those that do, the benefits of diversity are evident.”
The full report can be found here: GGGR_CompleteReport_2014