Special Report

Countries With the Highest Rates of Working Women

Hristina Byrnes, John Harrington

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10. Sweden
> Women working or looking for a job: 80.6% (84.3% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 51.8%
> Share of women in senior positions: 38.9%

Sweden ranks high in various measures of global gender equality. Literacy and enrollment rates for primary and secondary education are all above 99% for both men and women. The country is also at the top when it comes to enrollment in tertiary education, with 77.5% of women who finished secondary school within five years enrolled compared with 50.3% of men enrolled.

The Scandinavian nation ranks first on the Global Gender Gap Report in its share of women who hold jobs as professional and technical workers at 51.8%. It also ranks first in percentage of women who hold cabinet positions with 52.2%. Women are still paid at least $12,000 a year less than men.

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9. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
> Women working or looking for a job: 80.8% (82.1% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 50.4%
> Share of women in senior positions: 59.0%

The country ranks at the top in terms of economic participation and opportunity. Almost the same share of women and men are working or looking for work in Laos, a landlocked country sharing borders with China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. The country is among a few, out of the 149 in the report, where the estimated annual income for women is higher than that of men — $7,165 compared to $6,880.

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8. Tanzania
> Women working or looking for a job: 81.1% (88.3% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 43.0%
> Share of women in senior positions: 23.3%

Tanzania, an African country of more than 55 million people, scored high on the Global Gender Gap Report for enrollment in primary and secondary education, with women’s enrollment exceeding male enrollment in both categories. The country ranked 29th for its gender pay gap, with estimated earned income for women of $2,470 a year, compared with $3,432 for men. About 37% of Tanzania’s parliament seat are held by women, placing the nation 24th on the Global Gender Gap Report.

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7. Burundi
> Women working or looking for a job: 81.5% (77.9% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 46.0%
> Share of women in senior positions: 32.4%

Burundi, a country of about 10 million people in East Africa, is one of a few countries where women actually earn more than men — the estimated annual earned income is $875 for women and $664 for men. Their jobs are mostly in the agricultural sector, which accounts for about 90% of the country’s exports.

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6. Cambodia
> Women working or looking for a job: 83.4% (89.8% male)
> Share of women in professional and tech jobs: 42.7%
> Share of women in senior positions: 31.8%

More than 83% of women are in the labor force in Cambodia, a country of more than 15 million, less than 6 percentage points below that of the male participation rate. Women earn about $3,390 a year in Cambodia, compared to $4,644 for men, placing the country’s estimated earned income gender gap 20th in the Global Gender Gap Report rankings.