United States needs to close its gender gap

Each year the World Economic Forum publishes a Global Gender Gap report that ranks the countries of the world on four metrics to measure their degree of gender equality or inequality:

1. Economic participation and opportunity.
2. Educational attainment.
3. Health and survival.
4. Political empowerment.

Countries are scored between 0.0 for most unequal and 1.0 for fully equal.

Iceland tops the list with a score of .8640 and they have been number one since 2009. The Nordic countries consistently dominate the list — this year the top four include Iceland, Finland (.8451), Norway (.8403) and Sweden (.8159). Yemen is at the bottom with a score of .5054.

Where does the U.S. land? We’re ranked 22 with a score of .7373. That’s down from last year’s report when we were ranked 17 with a score of .7412. Surprisingly, there are five non-Western countries ahead of us on the list: South Africa, Cuba (!), Lesotho, Nicaragua and the Philippines. We get the highest scores in educational attainment (ranked #1) and economic participation and opportunity (8). We are lowest in health and survival (ranked 33) and political empowerment (55).

All in all, being a woman in the United States isn’t so bad, but we do have a ways to go to catch up to the Nordics and get closer to that number one spot.

What do you think about these rankings?

Melanie Holmes is vice president of World of Work Solutions for ManpowerGroup, a Milwaukee-based staffing solutions company.

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