The U.S. is a Gender Head Scratcher

The Economist released its fifth annual “glass ceiling index” to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8.  The index ranks OECD countries based on where women have the best (and worst) chance of equal treatment in the workplace.   U.S. ranks 20th out of the 29 countries surveyed.  Not good.

glass ceiling index - the economist

There are bright spots, however.  Women account for more than 40% of managerial positions in the U.S.  Not great, but enough to rank it first.  Women’s tertiary (higher) education attainment is also 6% greater than that of men, and better than the OECD average.  This is all good.  How then do we explain that women make 20% less than men in the U.S., which ranks as the 25th worst out of 29?



More academically inclined people can answer this question better, but it does seem compelling that in this group of countries, the U.S. is among the most challenging in which to raise children.  Which feeds an unhappy circularity of reinforcing existing gender norms in the home (women more likely to stay at home) and the workplace (lower wages).

In the U.S., net child-care costs are among the highest (5th out of 29), as a percentage of average wages.  It is the only country in this group to offer no mandated paid leave for mothers.  And, cozy in a group of 9 countries to offer no paid leave for fathers.  It probably does not help that women hold only 20% of seats in the House of representatives – 5th lowest.

paid leave for mothers - the economist

Source: “The best and worst places to be a working woman” The Economist, March 8

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s