Women in Work Index 2019

Turning policies into effective action to advance gender equality



2019 marks another year of continued steps to improve gender equality in the world of work. However, progress is slow and women in the OECD still face significant challenges and inequalities in the workplace. The pay gap persists and women are still under-represented in leadership positions.

Everyone has a stake in ensuring women have equal opportunities in the world of work. The evidence is clear. Our Women in Work Index shows that improving female participation in work across the OECD could boost OECD GDP by US$6 trillion, while closing the gender pay gap could boost GDP by US$2 trillion.

Explore the key findings from the research below, including a special focus on China and India, and our steps for turning policies into effective action to advance gender equality at work. You can also explore the results in detail using our interactive data tool.


Key findings

Step by step progress is made to advance gender equality

  • Iceland and Sweden retain their place as the top two performing OECD countries, with New Zealand occupying third place
  • The UK has improved its position slightly, moving from the 14th to the 13th position on the Index.
  • Since 2000, Luxembourg and Poland have made the largest improvements on the Index while Portugal, the United States and Austria have experienced the greatest fall in the rankings over this period.

Opening up opportunities for women across the UK

  • Scotland, South West and Wales are the top performing UK regions in the regional index we have built this year.
  • West Midlands performs the poorest on the index due to poor female labour force participation, a large gap between males and females and a high female unemployment rate.
  • Wales has made the most significant progress since 2000, primarily because of improvements in its female labour force participation rate while East Midlands has experienced the greatest fall over the same period due to a decline in the female full-time employment rate.

Unlocking female potential in China and India

  • Since 2000, India and China have added 167 million people to the global workforce, including 26 million women who now account for 35% of the global female workforce.

  • If included in our index, China would place between the Slovak Republic (26th) and Japan (27th) and India would occupy the last position, below Korea.

  • China could increase its GDP by US$497 billion by matching its female employment rate to that of our benchmark country, Sweden, and could increase female earnings by US$2 trillion by closing the gender pay gap.

  • India would see a US$245 billion boost to female earnings from closing the gender pay gap and a US$7 trillion increase in GDP from increasing the female employment rate to the level of Sweden.

Select a territory and year to explore the data further
      Index score and rank
      Vector Smart Object
      Index score
      Vector Smart Object1
      Gender wage gap
      Female boardroom representation
      Composition of female and male populations
      % of the total male or female working age population
      • Full time employment
      • Unemployment
      • Part-time employment
      • Outside labour force
      Closing the gender wage gap
      % increase for female earnings
      USD bn increase in female wages
      GDP impacts of increasing female employment rates to Swedish levels
      % increase in GDP
      USD bn increase in GDP

      Turning policies into effective action: Five foundations for a gender-equal workplace

      1) Align diversity with your business strategy

      Set out how diversity and inclusion supports your business priorities and ensure your strategy reaches beyond your workforce to include customers, suppliers, investors and wider society.


      2) Use data: what gets measured gets done

      Use data to diagnose potential areas for focus, set targets and measure progress. Workforce surveys, tracking the career paths of high potential individuals, and exit surveys can help gauge why talent is leaving

      3) Drive accountability from the top

      Ensure someone within the leadership team is accountable for improving diversity and inclusion and this responsibility is cascaded throughout the organisation.


      4) Be honest: Tell it like it is

      Focus on addressing shortcomings, as well as celebrating achievements, and set out plans for accelerating progress to show that you are committed to addressing diversity and inclusion challenges.


      5) Set realistic objectives and a plan to achieve them

      Set measurable goals, decide how they will be achieved and assign business leaders who are accountable for meeting these goals.


      Contact us

      Yong Jing Teow

      Economist, PwC United Kingdom

      Tel: +44 (0) 207 804 4257

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