Women in work index

Our latest index reveals the UK has made progress in narrowing the gender wage gap and increasing female labour participation, but so have other countries, which explains why the UK’s relative position has not changed from 2011. The UK still lags behind many OECD countries when it comes to overall female economic empowerment.

Our analysis puts the UK 18th out of 27 OECD countries based on a measure that combines five key indicators:

  • The equality of earnings with men;
  • The proportion of women in work;
  • The gap between female and male labour force participation;
  • The female unemployment rate; and
  • The proportion of women in full-time employment.

The UK’s absolute performance has improved since the Index was published last year. This is due to particular efforts in gradually narrowing the gender wage gap and increasing female labour force participation. But other OECD countries have also made progress, meaning that the UK has moved up by only one place to 18th position in the Women in Work Index. The UK is down from 14th in 2000 and 17th in 2007.

The Nordic countries continue to lead the Index, with Norway still taking pole position, followed by Denmark and Sweden. These three countries have consistently occupied the top three positions in the index ever since 2000.

The Netherlands and Ireland have made the biggest progress on the Index since last year, with both countries moving up five positions, due in large part to narrower gender wage gaps.

Yong Jing Teow, author of the Women in Work index and economist, said:

“It’s encouraging that the UK is making some headway on closing the gender pay gap, but there is still a long way to go before we catch up with other countries and fully close the gap."