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Startling Gender Gaps in the Workplace

gender gaps

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Not long ago, I posted an article that spoke to the inequality of women in  India—the gender gaps in the workplace. The point of the article is that, while better educated than men, Indian women cannot get executive positions or meaningful jobs with appropriate salaries. I processed the article and then like I always do, I searched for a picture to go with it. I wanted a picture of a woman (preferably one who may be in India) who looked like an executive.  I used the keywords “woman boss.” There were some great pictures of female executives, but there were also pictures like these below:

gender gaps in the workplace

gender gaps in the workplace








That prompted me to search for “man/male boss” and saw mostly pictures like this:


healthier habits at work







In the first three pages (approximately 225 images) that I searched for “woman boss”  I found 9 pictures that were sexually oriented. In the first three pages of “man/male boss” there were no sexually-oriented poses. Pictures for both men and women showed angry bosses. There were also stressed looking bosses and the majority of these were women.  When I searched for the keyword “boss” the first page had 54 pictures of men and 4 of women. When I searched for images with the keyword “CEO” only 8 out of the 72 on the first page were of women.

I did not search further.

Are all countries like this?

My initial response was one of astonishment, and the thought, “Oh, my, haven’t we progressed beyond this?”  Seeing these pictures in a leading graphics site, encouraged me to take another look at gender-based employment and the place of women in contemporary society. I wanted to know which countries had the least and greatest gender gaps. In doing my research I found the US News and World Report’s listing of the “Best Countries in 2019.” Approximately  20,000 people worldwide answered the surveys which covered:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Adventure
  • Citizenship
  • Cultural Influence
  • Heritage
  • Movers
  • Open for Business
  • Power

Looking at the Best Countries For Women

From this study, they ranked the countries that are best for women. The Best Countries for Women is a “perception-based ranking” of the responses of nearly 9,000 women who filled out surveys for the 2019 Best Countries rankings. This ranking is derived from a compilation of five equally weighted country attributes based on:

  • care about human rights
  • gender equality
  • income equality
  • progress
  • safety

The Best Countries for Women to Work In

When I searched for “Best Countries for women to work in” I found an “Annual Global Gender Gap Report”, released by the World Economic Forum in 2017 and reported in My Fairy God Boss.  It assessed 144 economies on how well they utilize their female workforces in their countries based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators including higher education, maternity leave, labor force participation and childcare costs. They then listed the six best and the six worst countries for women to work in.

I merged the findings of the three studies into the chart below. Each list is ranked from the highest to the lowest. If you want to see a more detailed report see the resource links at the end of this article.

The worst places for women to work in are:

  • Jordan
  • Great Britain
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • Egypt

Some Surprises and Interesting Facts

It is probably no surprise to most that the UK and the US were  ranked 5th and 8th in the list of Best Places to Live and 13th and 16th in the list of the “Best Places for Women to Live.” Neither is on the list of Best Places for Women to Work and the UK was actually in the list of “Worst Places for Women to Work.” The surprise to me was that the number one place for women to work is Iceland which is not on either of the other two lists. Few would expect the most developed countries of the world to have such wide gender gaps.

India, the country that got me started on this, ranked 57th for Best Places to Live and is not on the lists of the best places for women.

No surprise here: At the bottom of the list are Iran, Ghana, and Myanmar.

So How Big is the Gender Gap in the Workplace World Wide?

According to Business Insider, here are 12 countries with wide gender gaps. Hmmm. Very Interesting.

Country   % of women in the workforce

Korea      34.5%
Estonia   28.3%
Japan       24.6%
Chile         21.1%
Latvia       21.1%
Israel        19.3%
U.S.            18.2%
Canada   18.2%
UK             16.8%
Finland    16.5%
Mexico   1 5.5%
Austria    16.7%

There are some countries where women do not have the right to work. The gender gaps here are incredibly wide in all areas of a woman’s life.

There are 18 countries where women have to have permission from their husbands to get a job.

And if you want to look at pay discrepancies, along with the gender gaps, take a look at this:


There is no doubt that women are not considered equal and we have a long way to go. I’m not saying every woman needs to be in the workforce. Some choose to stay home and raise children and that is highly commendable. But others are gifted, educated and resourceful and should have the right and ability to be, not only a part of the workforce but a part of leadership if they qualify for the position. Gender gaps may hold her back.

What do we do about it? How do we become more widely accepted and better paid? It took us a long time to get where we are now, but, like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering size and momentum, women in the workplace is on the rise as is women in leadership positions.  The skills and abilities of both men and women are needed in any successful enterprise whether that is business, government or service. So don’t stop getting better educated, honing your skills, speaking out and helping one another climb that ladder.

Think about this as you read, and perhaps listen to, Bob Dylan’s song “The Times They Are a Changin’” which is as relevant now as when he wrote in in 1964. Read the lyrics below as you listen.

Come gather ’round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’


For the full list of 80 best places for women see

For the full list of the 80 countries and how they rank in each category, go to     

For the list of Best and Worst Places for Women to Work see My Fairy God Boss


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About Anas Alaoui

Anas Alaoui

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