A study released by German digital bank N26 has found that Norway, followed closely by Finland and Iceland, is leading the charge with overall female opportunity, scoring highly on political representation, corporate leadership, and women’s legislation.
N26 set out to commission ‘The Female Opportunity Index 2021’ to investigate workplace achievements and the factors driving female independence, against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the negative impact it has borne on females and their advancement in the workplace.
“There has been a lot of discussion about the fact that female-led countries performed better than male-led ones during the height of the first COVID-19 wave. This has been attributed to a number of attributes such as better communication and more lateral thinking, however the ultimate outcome is that countries with female leaders managed better during the peak of the crisis,” said Adrienne Gormley, COO of N26.
“Data has also shown that in countries where there is more gender parity, poverty drops and economies grow, while new research has shown that companies who foster female leadership perform better and increase profits.”
The study selected 100 countries around the world with comparable data on women in the workplace. First, to establish the level of gender parity N26 investigated how many years a country has been governed by a woman since 1970, as well as the total number of women in governmental or parliamentary positions.
It proceeded by examining the number of women in managerial positions, as well as data around female entrepreneurs in each country, to determine which nations help to foster the strongest female leadership opportunities and achievements.
Research then turned to the number of women in the typically male-dominated STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and importantly, the study not only considered those actively studying, but also on the percentage of women actually working in that field after graduation.
Average salary, gender wage gap access to education, legislation around women’s right to divorce or workplace discrimination, and the total days of maternity leave in each country were also weighed up.
Norway ranked second to Singapore in the salary level and gender wage gap category, while the UK trailed behind at #31. The UK made up for this discrepancy in other categories, with an overall ranking of 94.09 out of 100 - putting it in fourth place overall.
Other key findings in the research include:
- Sri Lanka has had the most years between 1970-2020 with a female head of government (29), followed by Norway (17) and India (16).
- The USA has the highest women in entrepreneurship score (100), followed by New Zealand (99.7) and Australia (99.5).
- Singapore has the highest women in STEM score (100), followed by Russia (98.2) and South Korea (97.8).
- Iceland has the highest women’s legislation score (100), followed by Finland (96.9) and Spain (96.2).
- Estonia offers the most maternity leave days (1,162), followed by Slovakia (1,148) and Finland (1,127).
Gormley added: “For many women, financial independence is the only means through which they can determine how they want to live, and yet it often comes at the expense of being the primary care-giver and having the lion’s share of domestic duties at home. Coupled with the gender salary wage gap that continues to be a huge impediment to female earnings, there are still many more obstacles for women who want to achieve the level of financial success that men take for granted.”
“The results show that women are still making incredible strides around the world as leaders in government, research and the corporate world despite the uphill battles they face. It’s up to us all to work together towards removing the unnecessary barriers to female self-sufficiency and achievement, and as a bank, we hope to do so in our own small way […] We want to understand what can hold women back when it comes to being financially confident, to understand the drivers behind financial independence, and see how we can help to make a difference.”