HONG KONG, March 13 2024 — For the second year in a row, The Economist’s annual glass-ceiling index (GCI) <https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/glass-ceiling-index>  shows that out of 29 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Iceland is the best country to be located if you are a working woman. 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. 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%. In Britain and America, the wage gap was higher than the OECD average (at 14.5% and 17% respectively)
  • The share of women in management went up slightly from 33.5% to 34.1%. America is one of the strongest countries on this measure, at 42.6%, along with the Scandinavian countries. The lowest are Japan and South Korea; same for women on boards
  • Men continue to make up a bigger proportion of the labour force than women, although this gap narrowed slightly last year to 14.8 percentage points
  • 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 Europe
  • The percentage of women on boards hit 33% for the first time across the OECD. The leaders on this measure are New Zealand, France and Denmark
  • In almost every country women make up a greater proportion of the university-educated population than men. Yet they make up a lower share of the workforce across our index. This is most notable in Italy and Greece, where less than two-thirds of women are in the labour force.

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.

The glass-ceiling index 2024

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

OECD average

  1. Britain
  2. Greece
  3. Germany
  4. United States
  5. Netherlands
  6. Hungary
  7. Israel
  8. Switzerland
  9. Japan
  10. Turkey
  11. South Korea