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UK rating for gender equality falls

Backwards step.

The drive towards greater gender equality has stalled since the recession, according to new research from PwC.

According to the firm’s latest Women in Work Index, the UK is ranked in 18th position out of a sample of 27 OECD in terms of female empowerment. The countries are rated in terms of the equality earnings with men, the proportion of women in work; the female unemployment rate; and the proportion of women in full-time employment.

The UK was rated in 13th place in 2000 and 14th place in 2007. PwC also said that while the UK has made some gains in closing the gender wage gap since 2000, it still remains higher than the OECD average.

Yong Jing Teow, author of the report and economist at PwC, said, 
“It is worrying that the UK’s progress in encouraging more women into work and closing the gender pay gap has all but ground to a halt since the recession hit. While most other OECD countries have continued to move ahead, our progress appears to have stalled. 

“Norway leads the pack when it comes to women’s economic empowerment due to its high rate of female participation in the labour force and a low gender pay gap. Women in the UK are struggling against a backdrop of rising female unemployment since 2007, above average pay inequality and fewer full-time employment opportunities.” 

Norway is ranked as the best place for female empowerment in the study, followed by Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand and Finland.

Norway has held the top spot since 2007.

The United States has seen a substantial fall since 2000, when it was in 7th place, to 2013 when it was ranked 17th. France has also fallen out of the top ten since 2000.

Margaret Cole, executive board member at PwC, said, 
“There is no one silver bullet for solving increasing female participation in the workforce. Actions need to be taken from the top of organisations. Businesses should be held to account over their female promotion pipelines and diversity goals. Young women want visible and aspirational role models at all levels and boards should be accountable for providing these. 

“Without strong and accountable action from British businesses, it is hard to see how we can achieve any real change and move past tokenism.” 

The rest of this story can be read on economia.

Helen Roxburgh is the online editor of Economia