The annual Women in Work Index by PwC shows that the OECD has continued its gradual progress towards greater female economic empowerment. The Nordic countries, particularly Iceland, Sweden and Norway, continue to occupy the top positions on the Index.
2019 marks another year of continued steps to improve gender equality in the world of work. However, progress is slow and women in the OECD still face significant challenges and inequalities in the workplace. The pay gap persists and women are still underrepresented in leadership positions.
There are clear economic benefits for advancing gender equality:
- £92bn boost to UK female earnings from closing the gender pay gap
- $6tn boost to OECD GDP from increasing female employment rates to match Sweden’s rates
- $2tn boost to OECD female earnings from closing the gender pay gap
The index also explores the drivers of the gender pay gap across the OECD. We find that government spending on family benefits, the share of female entrepreneurs, maternity leave and occupational segregation help explain the gender pay gap. The gains from closing the gap are substantial: achieving pay parity in the OECD could increase total female earnings by US$2 trillion.
Key findings from the PwC Women in Work index:
In the UK
- Scotland, South West and Wales are the top performing UK regions in the regional index we have built this year.
- West Midlands performs the poorest on the index due to poor female labour force participation, a large gap between males and females and a high female unemployment rate.
- Wales has made the most significant progress since 2000, primarily because of improvements in its female labour force participation rate while East Midlands has experienced the greatest fall over the same period due to a decline in the female full-time employment rate.
- Iceland, Sweden and Norway remain the top 3 performing OECD countries.
- The UK has fallen back from 14th to 15th position as improvements in female job market conditions and the gender pay gap in other countries has outpaced the gains achieved in the UK.
- Poland stands out for achieving the largest annual improvement, rising from 12th to 9th place due to a fall in female unemployment and an increase in the full-time employment rate for women.
- Luxembourg has seen the biggest improvement in its rank over the long-term, while Portugal has seen the largest negative movement.
- PwC’s analysis of the drivers of the gender pay gap across the OECD shows that government spending on family benefits, the share of female entrepreneurs, maternity leave and occupational segregation help explain the gender pay gap.
- Government policies to reduce the gender pay gap should focus on enhancing social support to families to help women stay in, or return to work, and promoting female entrepreneurship.
- Business can also help by improving opportunities for working women in higher-paying, higher-skilled roles through greater flexibility.
- Fully closing the gender pay gap could increase total female earnings by US$2 trillion across the OECD.
- There are significant economic benefits in the long-term from increasing the female employment rate to match that of Sweden. The GDP gains across the OECD could be over US$6 trillion.