Special Report

Countries With the Highest Rates of Working Women

Hristina Byrnes, John Harrington

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15. Bahamas
> Women working or looking for a job: 77.9% (87.9% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 60.3%
> Share of women in senior positions: 51.6%

The Bahamas is among the relatively few countries where women are more educated than men across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of educational attainment. A majority share of professional and technical jobs in the Bahamas are held by women — 60.3%. And slightly more than half of legislators, senior officials, and managers are women — 51.6% — which is unusual compared to most countries. Women hold just under 13% of parliament seats, however.

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14. Vietnam
> Women working or looking for a job: 79.3% (87.1% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 54.4%
> Share of women in senior positions: 27.2%

The percentage of women in professional and technical jobs in Vietnam tops that of men at 54.4%, and women exceed men in enrollment in tertiary education at 31.3%, compared with 25.3% for men. In Vietnam, the gender wage gap is among the narrowest in the world, as women earn $6,115 a year, compared with $7,450 for men. Even so, the International Labour Organization said in a report that Vietnamese women continue to work in vulnerable jobs such as migrant domestic workers, homeworkers, street vendors and in the entertainment industry.

Political representation for women in the nation is lacking, as only 4.2% of ministerial positions are occupied by women in the nation of almost 95 million.

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13. Zimbabwe
> Women working or looking for a job: 79.4% (89.9% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 45.8%
> Share of women in senior positions: 29.1%

Women in Zimbabwe mostly work jobs in agriculture, health, education, wholesale, and retail trade. Because this kind of work is generally low paying, the estimated annual income of women is lower than that of men — $1,795 compared to $2,393, respectively. Despite an existing law mandating equal pay, women get 64.5 cents for every dollar men make for similar work.

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12. Switzerland
> Women working or looking for a job: 79.7% (88.1% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 48.1%
> Share of women in senior positions: 33.9%

Switzerland’s literacy rate for men and women is 99% and the landlocked nation of 8.4 million people ranks first in enrollment in tertiary education for women at 58.4%, compared with 57.3% for men. Women still trail men in terms of income, earning $53,362 compared with $76,283 for men.

Doris Leuthard, who most recently served as president of the Swiss Federation in 2017, is among the small but growing group of female heads of government.

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11. Ethiopia
> Women working or looking for a job: 79.8% (89.1% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 32.6%
> Share of women in senior positions: 26.5%

Ethiopia is one of the 149 countries in the report where the share of technical and professional jobs held by women is the lowest. They mostly work in the agricultural sector in rural areas.

Countries with high rates of working women are not necessarily the best places for gender equality. In Ethiopia, there are no non-discrimination laws against not hiring women and no laws requiring women to be paid the same as men for similar work.