As World Makes Slow Progress in Closing Gender Equality Gap, U.S. Backslides

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
(graphic: Getty Images)

Gender equality is getting better overall in the world, but not in the United States, according to a new study.


The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report (pdf) says the worldwide separation between men and women in health, education, economic participation and politics shrunk about 4% over the past decade.


Some parts of the world saw progress, while others—like the U.S.—regressed. Its ranking in the report was 28th, down eight spots from last year, due to slightly “less perceived wage equality for similar work and changes in ministerial level positions,” the report states.


In some areas, the U.S. fell even further in the rankings. After being measured for political equality, it dropped 18 spots to No. 72. “The number of American women in cabinet-level positions dropped to just 26 percent from 32 percent last year, and only 19 percent of congressional positions are held by women,” ThinkProgress noted.


The worldwide rankings again saw Nordic countries finishing at the top, having done more than other nations to close their gender gaps. Iceland finished No. 1, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden.


Family leave policies are a big reason for the difference between the United States and countries with smaller gender gaps. Iceland leads the world with 90 days of paid parental leave, while the United States is the only developed nation with no national parental paid leave.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The U.S. Is Beaten by 27 Other Countries When It Comes to Women’s Equality (by Jess Colarossi, ThinkProgress)

It’s Back to the Future as Women’s Pay Finally Equals Men’s … From 2006 (by Oliver Cann, World Economic Forum)

The Global Gender Gap Report 2015 (World Economic Forum) (pdf)

Gender Pay Gap Exists in Every U.S. Industry (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Iceland Takes Gender Equality Lead; U.S. Falls to 31st (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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