This is the state of gender parity in 2024 - and what needs to happen to close the global gender gap

This is the state of gender parity in 2024 - and what needs to happen to close the global gender gap
Fecha de publicación: 
12 June 2024
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The biggest election year in history, 2024 will see 2 billion people go to the polls. They will not only determine countries’ ruling parties, but they will shape the gender split of governments and legislatives.

Currently, Political Empowerment is the largest of four gender gaps at only 22.5% closed, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2024.

Over the course of the 18 editions of the report, the Political Empowerment gap has shown the most improvement. Across the 101 countries continuously covered in the Global Gender Index since 2006, the gap has closed by 8.3 percentage points.

The share of women in parliamentary positions shows an almost uninterrupted positive trajectory since 2006.

Generations to parity in regions

Many regions are generations away from parity.Image: World Economic Forum

The Global Gender Gap 2024

Yet, compared to last year, there has been very little progress across the four dimensions measured in the Report towards reaching gender parity. Across all 146 countries in the index this year, the Global Gender Gap stands at 68.5% closed.

Considering the set of 101 countries continuously covered since 2006, the gender gap has closed by 0.1 percentage point since 2023.

At the current rate of progress, it will take 134 years to reach full parity in 2158 – which is roughly five generations from now.

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Global Gender Gap Report 2024

134 years - or five generations - to reach parityImage: World Economic Forum

The top 10 countries for gender parity

European countries once again outperform the index, occupying seven of the global top 10.

Iceland has been ranked number one for the 15th time and is the only economy to have closed its gender gap by more than 90% – at 93.5%. Although Iceland has ranked top for all but three of the editions, it has made considerable progress to ensure it stays at number one - going from 78.1% in 93.5% since 2006.

Nordic countries occupy four of the top five, with Finland ranked second (87.5%), Norway third (87.5%) and Sweden in fifth position with 81.6% of the gap closed. Germany (7th), Ireland (9th) and Spain (10th) make up the other European countries in the top 10.

New Zealand is the highest performing country outside of Europe, ranking fourth, with 83.5% of its gap closed, while Nicaragua is in sixth place and Namibia is eighth.

Both Spain and Ireland returned to the top 10, with twin improvements of their overall gender parity scores of 0.7 percentage points. Spain achieved its highest gender parity score to date – with 79.7% of the gap closed.

The Global Gender Gap Index 2024 Rankings. gender parity

The Global Gender Gap Index 2024 RankingsImage: World Economic Forum


What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?


The 4 gender gaps – and how they stand

Of the four gender gaps (and the 146 countries) covered by the index, the Health and Survival gender gap is the most closed at 96%, followed by the Educational Attainment gap (94.9%), the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap (60.5%). Trailing behind is the Political Empowerment gap (22.5%).

It will take another 20 years to reach parity in Educational Attainment, 169 years to close the Political Empowerment gap, and 152 years to reach economic parity. The time to close the Health and Survival gender gap remains undefined, according to the report.

The two dimensions where the gap is largest are also those where progress is most significant. At the indicator level, economies included in the 2024 edition are pushing forward women’s representation in parliament and ministerial positions.

In the economic dimension, parity for Professional and Technical workers, as well as in labour force participation, also increased. There has been a decline in overall collective parity for Legislators, Senior Officials, and Managers.

Largest gender gaps

The two largest gender gaps to bridge.Image: World Economic Forum

Closing gender gaps

In a world facing increasingly complex challenges, gender parity gives women better life chances.

Closing the gaps in politics and work means more equitable decision-making and better growth – and the latter could lead to a 20% rise in global GDP, according to a World Bank estimate noted in the report.

So how do we close the Global Gender Gap? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution and the picture is nuanced across different regions. But there are some approaches that can make a difference.

Year of projected gender parity in regions

Year of projected gender parity in regionsImage: World Economic Forum

Investment is required, particularly in developing economies that have a greater gap to close. The estimated collective investment required to reach gender parity by 2030, based on current government expenditure, would be of $360billion per year.

Policy and legislation is also vital. Since 1971, the number of countries that have adopted pay equity laws has increased from 2 to 98, according to World Bank data included in the report. But only 20% of those economies have also implemented mechanisms to redress the pay gap.

In this bumper election year, some 47 parliamentary chambers are holding elections and use gender quotas for candidates.

Businesses also need to play their part through effective diversity, equity and inclusion policies and upskilling.

Women’s participation in the workforce has rebounded since many dropped out during the pandemic.

In the US, for example, the number of women in the job market hit a record high, with remote work helping working mothers to return. But a lack of paid parental leave and the cost of childcare can make it unaffordable for working parents to work.

In Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the report finds “women’s participation rate in the labour force has increased in greater proportion than men’s since 2020”.

But women are still underrepresented in the workforce at 42% – and women make up just under a third of leadership roles (31.7%), according to LinkedIn data.

Workforce representation

Wormen represent 42% of the global workforce.Image: World Economic Forum

The disproportionate representation of women in sectors which tend to have higher paying jobs, including technology and infrastructure, is one of the reasons for the gender pay gap.

In 2024, women made up 28.2% of the STEM workforce, but the picture is improving for AI Engineering talent according to LinkedIn data. Although men still outnumber women, over the past four years the share of female AI talent has increased significantly.

Gender parity in the workforce can be advanced through both formal measures like quotas and policies, as well as through informal factors such as professional networks.

LinkedIn data suggests gender gaps in online professional networks lead to men typically having larger networks and stronger networks than women. Stronger networks are associated with increased probability of career progression and receive more recruiter outreach. However, one silver lining is that women have more “weak” ties, which have been linked to greater jobs mobility.

In terms of being future-ready, women lag behind men in online skilling, with Coursera data showing AI and big data (30%), programming (31%) and networks and cybersecurity (31%) lag in achieving gender parity.

Gender representation in AI engineering

Gender representation in AI engineeringImage: World Economic Forum

The report says: “These findings underscore the need for targeted interventions to bridge this gap and ensure equitable access to emerging technological competencies, particularly since generative AI is a fast-growing technology with the potential to enable tailored learning experiences fitting the needs of diverse learner populations.”

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