UK has highest equality for female leaders

The World Economic Forum has published work by the Women Political Leaders Global Forum, that has, in cooperation with Kantar, created the ‘Reykjavik Index for Leadership’ to help understand global attitudes to gender equality in leadership roles.

The UK tops the list, with the highest rating for equality in the index for Leadership for the G7 nations. The Index shows that the G7 divides into two groups of countries. First, a group of four that have higher indices out of 100: the UK (72), France (71), Canada (71), and the US (70).

The higher scores in these four nations are believed to be an indication of further progress, however non-country has reached the ‘perfect’ score of a 100.

There is then a group of three which are a step change below: Japan (61), Germany (59) and Italy (57). Relative to those in the other G7 countries, people in these three nations are more likely to think women and men are not equally suited to leadership positions generally.

Furthermore, their views are more likely to vary by sector, meaning in these nations, traditional or sexist stereotypes about men’s roles or women’s roles are more embedded than in the other four countries.

The study also reveals prejudices against both men and women, so closed mindsets clearly do exist for both men and women, but the report does note that at present there a higher prejudice is against women. Furthermore, across the G7, the Reykjavik Index for Leadership is higher for women (67) than for men (61). This means that women in the G7 are more likely than men to view women and men as equally suitable for leadership roles. This is the case for both the overall G7 and also within every individual G7 nation and in each of the 20 sectors covered in the research.

There are some surprising and encouraging findings from the Index and the wider study. For example, the sector with the highest Reykjavik Index for Leadership score is media and entertainment, with 80. Indeed, 85 per cent of women and 80 per cent of men in the G7 believe men and women are equally suited to leadership in this industry. Similarly, the Index score is also above 75 for some science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers, such as natural sciences, pharmaceutical and medical research, economics and political science, and banking and finance.

However, some strong stereotypes endure in other sectors. The index shows that for childcare, fashion and beauty, and defence and policing, there are majority-held stereotypical views about who is suitable to lead.

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