The report measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women:
1. Economic participation and opportunity â€“ outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2. Educational attainment â€“ outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
3. Political empowerment â€“ outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
4. Health and survival â€“ outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio
The Nordic countries, Sweden (1), Norway (2), Finland (3) and Iceland (4), top the latest Gender Gap Index released today by the World Economic Forum. Germany (5) completes the top five countries with the smallest “gender gap”. Germany has particularly strong scores in the area of political empowerment (6) but displays a weaker performance in the area of economic participation and opportunity (32) deriving, in particular, from a persistent wage gap. EU countries generally perform well in the rankings, with 10 EU members, two of which joined in 2004, in the top 20 positions. The United Kingdom (9) and Ireland (10) both show a strong performance. The United Kingdom displays a particularly strong performance on educational attainment, as one of the 11 countries in the world that have fully closed the gender gap in education, and on political empowerment where it ranks 12th out of the 115 countries. Latvia (19) and Lithuania (20) are some of the new EU members that place well ahead of long-time EU members Austria (26) and Belgium (33), but behind Spain (11) and the Netherlands (12). At the other end of the rankings, Greece (69), France (70), Malta (71), Italy (77) and Cyprus (83) have the lowest rankings in the EU, reflecting, in particular, low levels of political participation by women in decision-making bodies and generally poor scores in terms of economic participation and opportunity, although France’s poor performance in these areas is partially offset as it is one of the 11 countries holding the top spot in closing the education gap and one of 34 countries having closed the health gap. Switzerland (25) ranks behind some of its neighbours such as Germany (5), but well ahead of others such as France (70) and Italy (77). The United States (22) lags behind many European nations in addition to falling behind Canada (14). The United States performs particularly well on economic participation and opportunity (3) and on health (1), sharing the number one spot in this category with 33 other countries, but lags behind on political empowerment (66). Both New Zealand (7) and Australia (15) rank well in closing the gender gap. The Philippines (6) is distinctive as the only Asian country in the top 10.