Gender Gap Report: 7th International number crunching

The latest Gender Gap Report, a ranking of numerous countries on four gender scales, presents a few surprises mainly constant results. A number of European countries keep dominating the top ranks, and beyond this a few remarkable drops and rises can be noted. This observation leaves us with the question of the purpose of an annual counting of female parliamentarians, birth rates, women in management positions and girls at school. That value of counting – or rather the effort of doing this well – is also challenged in the context of an all too detailed D&I monitoring.

Although European countries occupy seven of the top ten ranks, a remarkable newcomer, Nicaragua, has appeared in that group. The country went from rank 27 on to number 9. This happened mainly due to the fact that Nicaragua has increased the number of women in its politics over this past year: Today 46 percent of ministers and 40 percent of parliamentarian are women. Another surprise is the ranking of a newcomer in the report: Cape Verde made it to rank 35 in its first year. This result is mainly based on the fact that the country is among the top twenty in the enrolment in its secondary education and that there are many women in ministerial positions.

Some major changes among the European countries include Luxembourg which has raised from rank 30 to 17. This has to do with the closing of their wage gap and an increase of the percentage of women in parliament. Based on the performance of the last seven years, Luxembourg is among the top climbers of the 111 countries that have been included in this analysis since 2006. Conversely, Spain went from rank 12 to 26, mainly due to a decreasing percentage of women in ministerial positions. The top three countries have not changed with Iceland showing a full gap closure in Education and in Political Empowerment. Norway and Finland have switched ranks as Finland has increased the number of women in its Educational Attainment. Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden have closed their gender gaps by over 80% compared to a global average of 60%. Among the top four global economies, the US, Japan and Germany have improved their economic gender gap, whereas the same indicator has slightly declined for China.

The analysis of risers and losers clearly shows that the main (short-term) impact on changes comes from political moves, which are based on elections, list compositions and appointments. Structural improvements, in education, health systems or management development, will not influence counting results within a space of one, two or three years. This is maybe an important lesson from this extensive exercise.

The Gender Gap report was published for the 7th time by the World Economic Forum. The prestigious event itself only has 17% of women among its participants. There is a theoretical expectation that participating organisations send at least one women for every four male delegates.