At times, progress towards gender equality has moved at a glacial pace in Western society. Yes, there have been improvements over the past few decades, such as the pay gap narrowing, but there is a continual overarching concern that the term is simply used as a buzzword of the zeitgeist. That’s often the problem with a lot of societal issues: rhetoric but no action. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming years, after it has been found that women in particular have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the lines between home and work blurred over the past year. Will companies make a concerted effort to tackle gender inequality?

Traditionally it is thought that Scandinavian countries have been at the forefront of progressive policies aimed at gender parity. However, a new study conducted by Reboot Online for International Women’s Day has unearthed some surprising new findings.

By evaluating a variety of factors that contribute to women’s success in the workforce, they created an index that determined which European countries offer the best prospects for female professionals. You can find the full set of data here.

Which country in Europe is the best for women to work in?

Bulgaria is the best European country for women to work, according to the index. It has a combined total of 236.6 points out of a possible 300. The country is the second-best for women in leadership (90/100 points), losing out only to Norway (100/100 points), which boasts one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. It also offers the best maternity leave package in Europe, scoring a maximum of 100 points. Who would have guessed that?

Following in second place is Croatia with a combined total of 229.9 points. The Croats are second to Bulgaria in terms of maternity leave credentials (96.6/100 points). It seems that the country is also on the right track with the gender pay gap, as it registered the second-highest points for economic opportunity (96.6/100), losing out only to Italy who scored an impressive 100 points. However, the 36.6 points they received for women in leadership shows that there is still work to be done.

Rounding out the top 5 in Europe are:

3rd place – Estonia (220 points)

4th place – Norway and Slovakia (209.9 points)

5th place – The Netherlands (206.5 points)

It is also noteworthy that cournties such as Latvia scored more points for economic opportunity (86.6/100) than traditional economic powerhouses such as the United Kingdom, which lay in 12th place (66.6/100 points) and Denmark which lay in 15th place (56.6/100). 

Which is the country with the least opportunities for women?

In last place is Turkey, scoring 39.9 points out of a possible 300. Despite its poor performance, the country still earned more points for women in leadership (13.3/100) than countries that have been known for promoting equality, such as Germany (10 points), which has a female PM, and Austria (3.3 points). Just ahead in 26th place is Portugal (69.9 points out of a possible 300), which also surpasses Germany and Austria for women in leadership (26.6/100 points).

Naomi Aharony, CEO and Co-Founder at Reboot Online, stated:

“The overall results have suggested that there is some progress in terms of gender equality in the workplace in Europe. Balkan countries such as Bulgaria and Croatia ranked highly, indicating that there are some improvements being made. Although, the disappointing positions of affluent Western European countries such as Germany and Denmark reaffirm that the progress towards gender parity remains slow in Europe.

Although it is good to see some advancement women still face numerous challenges when it comes to gender equality in the workplace that involves not only the wage gap, lack of leadership representation, government incentives and work-life balance. The prevailing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have undoubtedly intensified these challenges, with working mothers taking the brunt of the repercussions.”

For many reading this, it may be disappointing to find the UK in a lowly 15th position in this index, which, as stated above, used 3 key metrics to determine women’s success in the workforce. The lack of maternity support especially should be highlighted. We like to think as ourselves as bastions of modernity, but maybe, just maybe, we’re not quite the nation we think we are.

So, today on International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate women’s achievements, but also ask ourselves what action we should be taking for genuine equality. There is still a long way to go.

Credit for data/study: https://www.rebootonline.com/.

And thanks to Helena from http://www.journalistic.org.