Best Countries for Women in the Workforce

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Which countries are making strides towards a workforce that supports women at every stage of their careers?

To find out, we scored 39 countries according to things like political parity, female entrepreneurship, education for women, average salaries and more.

Top 10 Best Countries to Work as a Woman

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CountryPolitical power score% of women in C-suite positionsFemale entrepreneur scoreWomen in STEM scoreEducation scoreYear of Women’s SuffrageFinancial inclusion %Labour force participation %Maternity leave in weeksGender pay gap %Total Score
New Zealand6240481018939965267384

Nordic countries come out on top

With the highest average scores across the board, Norway ranks first as the best country in the world for women in the workforce, followed closely by New Zealand in second place.

Within the top-scoring countries, Nordic countries come out on top overall, with Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Estonia all within the top six.

Norway’s ranking is in line with other findings and statistics. The country’s OECD Better Life Index shows excellent levels of gender equality in categories like jobs, education, civic engagement and overall lifestyle satisfaction. Norway also outranked 99 other countries in the Women’s Liveability Score.

New Zealand, Finland, and Iceland have high scores in education and women in STEM categories. This indicates that these countries provide ample opportunities for women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and have strong educational systems.

Several countries on the list had early milestones in women’s suffrage. Norway, New Zealand, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark achieved women’s suffrage before or in 1915, demonstrating their historical commitment to gender equality.

The top-ranked countries generally have high financial inclusion percentages and labour force participation rates for women. This suggests that women in these countries have access to financial services and job opportunities, enabling them to participate actively in the workforce.

All Countries Ranked

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RankCountryPolitical power score% of women in C-suite positionsFemale entrepreneurship scoreWomen in STEM scoreEducation scoreYear of Women’s SuffrageFinancial inclusion %Labour force participation %Avg. payment rate during maternity leave %Maternity leave in weeksGender pay gap %
2New Zealand624048101893996549267
17United Kingdom363457919289658303914
20United States4141679192096550017
28Slovak Republic253037919208355753412
31Czech Republic302437919207952642812
33Costa Rica743134819498048100175
35South Korea251228919489553841331

Belgium has the lowest gender wage gap

Norway doesn’t come out on top in every aspect. Belgium has the lowest gender wage gap at only 1.2%, while the gender pay gap in Norway is 4.6%

South Korea has the worst gender wage gap in the OECD. It also has the fewest women in senior and middle management positions (12%).

Costa Rica has the best political parity

Costa Rica comes first on our list for equal representation in politics. Women held 46% of legislative seats following the 2018 election. According to Freedom House, the nation enjoys broad political freedom across all sectors of society.

Japan and Greece come joint last with the lowest political parity scores.  In Japan just 22% of politicians are women, and Greece had to wait until 2020 for a female prime minister.

Croatia offers the best maternity benefits

The United States comes dead last for pregnant working women without statutory paid maternity leave.

16 countries on our list offer an average 100% salary for women during maternity leave: Norway, Estonia, Slovenia, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Turkey and Israel.

Croatia comes out on top in general maternity benefits as, even after a mother returns to work, she may qualify for shorter working hours and breastfeeding breaks.

Norway is the best for safety

Norway came out on top in this category, the country has a generally low crime rate. With its gang violence, Mexico had the poorest perception of community safety on our list.

Some of the lower-ranked countries on the list excel in certain areas, with room for improvement in others. Here’s a look at the top scorers across 10 of our metrics:

Metric#1 CountryScore
Political parityCosta Rica74/100
% Women in C-Level positionsLatvia44%
Female entrepreneurshipEstonia10/10
Women in STEMEstonia8.57/10
Perception of community safetyNorway89.5
Education scoreAustralia9.71/10
Extent of financial inclusionNorway/Denmark/Sweden100%
Female labour force participationNew Zealand65.07%
Cost of childcare scoreSweden89**
% Gender wage gapBelgium1.2%

Other key findings:

In our overall scores, the United Kingdom and United States ranked 17th and 20th, respectively. Both have high education scores (9.21 and 9.33) and high rates of financial inclusion (96.1) but low rates of maternity leave and pay.

Legislative and social change alike can drive countries towards more inclusive practices, creating a fairer working environment for women that values all employees equally. We hope to see more countries on this list score higher in the years to come.


To work out which country is the best place to work as a woman, we scored each of the 39 OECD countries on the following key factors:

–              Political parity (women in political positions up to 50%)

–              Percentage of women in C-suite level positions

–              Female entrepreneurship (number of businesses started or headed by women)

–              Women in STEM (number of female STEM graduates and mathematics and science test results in school)

–              Education level (in comparison to men)

–              Year of women’s suffrage(when women were allowed to vote)

–              Extent of financial inclusion (how much

–              Female labour force participation

–              Average payment rate during maternity leave

–              Length of maternity leave (in weeks)

–              Gender wage gap percentage (the average difference in how much less a woman is paid compared to a man in the same or similar role)

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