The Economist has created a “glass-ceiling index”, to show where women have the best chances of equal treatment at work. It combines data on higher education, labour-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs. Each country’s score is a weighted average of its performance on nine indicators.
To no one’s surprise, Nordic countries come out well on educational attainment and labour-force participation. Women are also relatively well represented in their parliaments; Finland and Sweden were among the first countries to allow women to vote and stand for election. Yet even there women are paid less than men for similar work. In Finland and Sweden the gap is close to the OECD average of 15%, though in Norway it has fallen to 8%.
In Finland women accounted for almost half of those who took the GMAT, an entrance exam for business schools, in 2012-13. Worldwide, the share was 43%, an increase of five points in a decade. In Norway nearly two-fifths of board members for the largest listed companies are women, thanks largely to the introduction of mandatory quotas in 2008. That is twice the share in the European Union, which is considering bringing in quotas if the current voluntary approach fails.