For American Women, Glass Ceiling Is Cracked, but Still Intact

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It may be the 21st century, but women workers in the United States – and their female peers around the globe – are still fighting to break through the glass ceiling.

According to The Economist’s recently released glass-ceiling index, the United States earned a score of 55.9 out of 100 on its treatment of women at work. That’s just a hair below average for the 29 countries included in the rankings.

To determine each country’s glass-ceiling score, the index factored in data for higher education, workforce participation, gender wage gap, child care costs, maternity rights, business school applications, representation in senior jobs and paternity rights.

So which countries are doing the best? The Nordic countries: Iceland (in first place with a score of 82.6), Norway, Sweden and Finland – earned top spots based on their treatment of women in the workplace. Overall, 18 countries earned higher rankings on the glass-ceiling index than the United States. South Korea was ranked 29th out of the 29 countries, with a score of 25.

The United States could make significant improvements to its score by improving its treatment of working moms. After all, this is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have mandated paid maternity leave. America’s child care costs are also steep in comparison with other countries. (Check out “The Best (and Worst) States for Working Moms” and “The 10 Best Companies for Working Moms.”)

The United States also scored low on its female representation on company boards and within the government. For example, American women make up just 16.4 percent of company boards, while women in Iceland have a 44 percent representation on boards.

Meanwhile, women hold more than 40 percent of government positions in Iceland, Finland and Sweden, compared with less than 20 percent in the United States.

For more on gender pay gap issues, read “The Gender Pay Gap Is More Complex Than You Think.” You can also check out “Gender Wage Gap Is Not Just Unfair – It’s Depressing.”

What do you think of America’s ranking on the glass-ceiling index? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

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