Special Report

The 30 Countries with the Smallest Gender Gap

Source: Charday Penn / Getty Images

15. France
>2020 score (0-1): 0.781
>2006 score: 0.652 (70th out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.891 (45th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.528 (127th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.526 (59th out of 153)

France has made some progress in 2020, with its gender gap score increasing since 2018 but not enough to improve the country’s ranking. In fact, France’s ranking dropped three slots compared with last year’s WEF report. The wage equality gap is only 52% closed, ranking 127th out of the 153 nations included in the assessment. Still, though a gap exists in labor force participation, it is relatively small with 67.5% of the female population working compared with 75.8% of males. France performs well in one economic subindex — there are slightly more women than men employed as professional and technical workers. However, only a third of senior posts and managers are occupied by women.

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14. Denmark
>2020 score (0-1): 0.782
>2006 score: 0.746 (8th out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.935 (19th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.693 (52nd out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.364 (102nd out of 153)

Denmark has made significant improvements in closing the gender gap in political empowerment. The current head of state is a woman. Elected in June 2019, Mette Frederiksen, 41, is Denmark’s youngest prime minister ever. The country is also closer to closing the gap in labor force participation — over 76% of women work, compared with 81% of men. Both men and women are able to work outside the home and pursue careers because of government-supported daycare and generous parental leave of 224 days, which can be split between the parents any way they see fit. The educational attainment gap has been fully closed at least since 2006, when the WEF report first came out.

13. Costa Rica
>2020 score (0-1): 0.782
>2006 score: 0.694 (30th out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.637 (118th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.573 (111th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.513 (66th out of 153)

Political empowerment gaps are large in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but Costa Rica has made significant progress over the last year – in 2018, the country elected a six-person legislative directorate, with five women in the leadership roles — joining the group of countries that have closed at least 54% of the gap on this subindex. Moreover, slightly more than half of ministers in the country in 2019 were women. While the political empowerment gap in Costa Rica is closing, the economic opportunities one has barely moved since 2006. Just over 55% of the income and wage gaps have been closed. The gender gap in senior positions is even wider, with only a third of such positions held by women.

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12. Namibia
>2020 score (0-1): 0.784
>2006 score: 0.686 (38th out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.871 (55th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.662 (69th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.772 (15th out of 153)

Namibia has made significant improvements in every aspect of the global gender gap index since 2006, when the country ranked 38th out of 115 countries. Namibia has achieved parity in the education subindex, with 91% of both men and women getting a secondary education; in life expectancy; and in the professional and technical workers measure. In fact, there are more female skilled workers than male. The country is also reducing its labor force participation gap with 87% of it being closed in 2020, but there are still economic disparities between men and women. Women are paid significantly less for similar work — that gap is only 66% closed. There are only two measures Namibia is performing worse in, and they are both part of the political empowerment index. Only a fifth of ministerial positions are held by women, and a woman has been head of state for four years of the last 50.

Source: Thinkstock

11. Latvia
>2020 score (0-1): 0.785
>2006 score: 0.709 (19th out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.934 (20th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.717 (34th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.721 (31st out of 153)

Latvia has significantly improved its gender parity score as well as its ranking since 2006, moving from 19th to 11th place in 2020. Today, nearly 75% of women in Latvia are in the labor market, while 80% of men are. The share of women among senior officials is relatively high, too — about 45% of senior roles are filled by women. The biggest improvement in ranking since 2006 has been made in the educational attainment subindex. The country was ranked 85th in 2006 and ranks first in the latest WEF report.

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