Should our workplaces become more Nordic?

by Chloe Taylor03 Nov 2014
The 2014 Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR) was released recently, and showed an overall global growth since the first report was released in 2006. Neither Australia nor New Zealand managed to make it into the report’s top ten countries for gender equality, with the Nordic nations of Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark making up the top five.

New Zealand ranked 13th, while Australia ranked 24th in the report’s findings. New Zealand dropped six places from last year’s report, while Australia’s ranking remained unchanged.

The report’s findings showed the global gender gap to have closed from 56% to 60% – but at this rate of growth, global gender equality will not be achieved for another 81 years.

Iceland, the occupier of the top position in the rankings, began in 2006 at the fourth position, and moved upwards over the next years, holding the top spot for the past six consecutive years.

The GGGR suggested that Iceland’s high ranking is partially due to the ability of the country’s women to rise to positions of enterprise leadership, which the report stated “highlights the success of the country in maximizing the return from its investment in female education.”  Iceland also had the highest number of women in non-agricultural employment at 52%, and is one of the countries which had the lowest difference in numbers of male and female graduates in STEM subjects.

Iceland also has the world’s longest paternity coverage at 90 calendar days, helping its residents to balance work and family.

Ali Cavill, owner of Fit Fantastic, told HC that we should be following Iceland’s example when it comes to paternity leave.

“By focusing the statutory entitlements of parenthood onto the mother it relegates fathers to the side lines, and creates an inequitable model of child care,” she said. “While women lose their career footing, fathers miss out on the chance to connect and foster a healthy, close relationship with the child. A flexible system where the parental leave is afforded to both mother and father is better for families as well as for businesses.”

Six of the original countries from the 2006 report saw a decline in their opportunities for women in this year’s report.

The GGGR tracks four aspects of society in its measurements: economy, politics, health and education, reporting on the state of these in a total of 142 countries.

Of these, the health and survival gap is the strongest, measuring globally at 96% – this, however, does not reflect the fact that the gap for this area has widened in 40% of the nations included in the report. Furthermore, only 35 countries have fully closed the health and survival gap.

Education equality is the second strongest at 94%, with 25 countries having closed the gap entirely. However, almost 30% of the nations in the report have wider gaps in education than they did eight years ago.

“Education still remains the strongest tool for employment success and earning potential, with tertiary education graduates across the OECD earning on average 70% more than those who are non-tertiary educated,” said Cavill. “However, despite more women having higher levels of education, the employment rate remains considerably higher among men than women. This gap is smallest among tertiary educated individuals and widest among those without an upper secondary education, proving that, despite these disparities, investment in female education is worthwhile.”

None of the nations tracked have eliminated either their politics or economic gaps.

Less than 10% of the countries tracked have narrowed economic disparity to 80%, while the global politics gap shows that the average woman has one fifth of the political empowerment available to men.

“Only those economies who have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. “But more importantly, gender equality is a matter of justice. As a humanity, we also have the obligation to ensure a balanced set of values.” 


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