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Gender gap shrinking slowly.

Gender parity will take another 131 years

It will take 131 years to reach full gender parity if improvements continue at the present modest speed, World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap report shows. “While the global parity score has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the overall rate of change has slowed down significantly. Even reverting back to the time horizon of 100 years to parity projected in the 2020 edition would require a significant acceleration of progress”, the report says.

Women remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce, the report says referring to data from LinkedIn. Women make up almost half (49.3%) of total employment across non-STEM occupations, but just 29.2% of all STEM workers. 

“While the percentage of female STEM graduates entering into STEM employment is increasing with every cohort, the numbers on the integration of STEM university graduates into the labour market show that the retention of women in STEM even one year after graduating sees a significant drop.” 

Women currently account for 29.4% of entry-level workers; yet for high-level leadership roles such as VP and C-suite, representation drops to 17.8% and 12.4%, respectively. 

“When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) specifically, talent availability overall has surged, increasing six times between 2016 and 2022, yet female representation in AI is progressing very slowly. The percentage of women working in AI today is approximately 30%, roughly 4 percentage points higher than it was in 2016.”

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The global gender gap is 68.4%, an improvement of 0.3% from last year’s 68.1%. The index measures gender parity across four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, health and survival and political empowerment in 145 countries. 

The modest improvement since 2006, when the index was introduced, is 4.1 percentagepoints based on numbers from the 102 countries that have been included since the first report.


 According to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Index no country has yet achieved full gender parity, although the top nine countries (Iceland, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia and Lithuania) have closed at least 80% of their gap. 

For the 14th year running, Iceland (91.2%) takes the top position. It also continues to be the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gender gap.

The global top five is completed by three other Nordic countries – Norway (87.9%, 2nd), Finland (86.3%, 3rd) and Sweden (81.5%, 5th) – with one country from East Asia and the Pacific – New Zealand (85.6%, 4th) – ranked 4th. 

Additionally, from Europe, Germany (81.5%) moves up to 6th place (from 10th), Lithuania (80.0.%) returns to the top 10 economies, taking 9th place, and Belgium (79.6%) joins the top 10 for the first time in 10th place. 

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One country from Latin America (Nicaragua, 81.1%) and one from Sub-Saharan Africa (Namibia, 80.2%) – complete this year’s top 10, taking the 7th and 8th positions, respectively. 

The two countries that drop out of the top 10 in 2023 are Ireland (79.5%,11th, down from 9th in 2022) and Rwanda (79.4%, 12th, down from 6th).

“Women continue to face higher unemployment rates than men, with a global unemployment rate at around 4.5% for women and 4.3% for men.” 

“Even when women secure employment, they often face substandard working conditions: a significant portion of the recovery in employment since 2020 can be attributed to informal employment, whereby out of every five jobs created for women, four are within the informal economy; for men, the ratio is two out of every three jobs.”

The report says that global data provided by LinkedIn shows persistent skewing in women’s representation in the workforce and leadership across industries. In LinkedIn’s sample, which covers 163 countries, women account for 41.9% of the workforce in 2023, yet the share of women in senior leadership positions (Director, Vice-President (VP) or C-Suite) is at 32.2% in 2023, nearly 10 percentage points lower. 


Women’s representation drops to 25% in C-Suite positions on average, which is just more than half of the representation in entry-level positions, at 46%. 

For the past eight years, the proportion of women hired into leadership positions has been steadily increasing by about 1% per year globally. However, this trend shows a clear reversal starting in 2022, which brings the 2023 rate back to 2021 levels.

“Much like in the case of representation of women in business leadership, gender gaps in political leadership continue to persist. Although there has been an increase in the number of women holding political decision-making posts worldwide, achieving gender parity remains a distant goal and regional disparities are significant.”

As of 31 December 2022, approximately 27.9% of the global population, equivalent to 2.12 billion people, live in countries with a female head of state. While this indicator experienced stagnation between 2013 and 2021, 2022 witnessed a significant increase. 

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Another recent positive trend is observed for the share of women in parliaments. In 2013, only 18.7% of parliament members globally were women among the 76 countries with consistent data. By 2022, this number had risen steadily to 22.9%. 


“Significant strides have also been made in terms of women’s representation in local government globally. Out of the 117 countries with available data since 2017, 18 countries, including Bolivia (50.4%), India (44.4%) and France (42.3%), have achieved representation of women of over 40% in local governance.”

“Recent years have seen major setbacks and the state of gender parity still varies widely by company, industry and economy. Yet, a growing number of actors have recognized the importance and urgency of taking action, and evidence on effective gender parity initiatives is solidifying”, World Economic Forum says.

“We hope the data and analysis provided in this report can further accelerate the speed of travel towards parity by catalysing and informing action by public- and private-sector leaders in their efforts to close the global gender gap.”

For the 146 countries covered in the 2023 index, the Health and Survival gender gap has closed by 96%, the Educational Attainment gap by 95.2%, Economic Participation and Opportunity gap by 60.1%, and Political Empowerment gap by 22.1%.

Based on the constant sample of 102 countries covered in all editions since 2006, there is an advancement from 95.3% to 96.1% on Educational Attainment between 2022 and 2023, moving beyond pre-pandemic levels, and an improvement from 95.7% to 95.9% for the Health and Survival dimension. The Political Empowerment score edges up from 22.4% to 22.5% and Economic Participation and Opportunity regresses from 60.0% in 2022 to 59.8% in 2023.


At the current rate of progress over the 2006-2023 span, it will take 162 years to close the Political Empowerment gender gap, 169 years for the Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, and 16 years for the Educational Attainment gender gap. The time to close the Health and Survival gender gap remains undefined.

Gender parity in Europe (76.3%) surpasses the parity level in North America (75%) this year to rank first of eight geographic regions. Closely behind Europe and North America is Latin America and the Caribbean, with 74.3% parity. 










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