Australia ranks 43rd in the Global Gender Gap Report: How can you get equal?

women on the map making progress with gender equality and wage gap

The annual World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report is out for 2022 and the results might come as a surprise to some Aussies, with us ranking a meagre 43rd.

This report considers the gap across several key categories, including education, opportunity and empowerment, among several other factors. 

Gender might be broader than just male and female, but the report uses it to establish a baseline for where 146 nations stand in respect to each other.

Closing the gender gap by 73.8%, Australia is roughly a third of the way through the global chart. It’s a jump upwards from our 2021 ranking of 50th, but remains considerably lower than our closest neighbours. 

New Zealand is the only country in the Asia Pacific region to sit amongst the top 10. Sitting in 4th, New Zealand has closed 84.1% of the gap in gender disparity. A high proportion of women in ministerial positions and parliamentary roles likely gives them the edge, as with many of the countries in the top ten.

Which countries are the closest to gender equality?

By the World Economic Forum’s calculation of how close to parity they are, the top ten countries are:

  1. Iceland (90.9%)
  2. Finland (86%)
  3. Norway (84.5%)
  4. New Zealand (84.1%)
  5. Sweden (82.2%)
  6. Rwanda (81.1%)
  7. Nicaragua (81%)
  8. Namibia (80.7%)
  9. Ireland (80.4%)
  10. Germany (80.1%)

These are ranked on the basis of four categories: Health and Survival, Educational Attainment, Economic Participation and Opportunity, and Political Empowerment. The most improvement was shown in Vanuatu, Kenya and Saudi Arabia.

In 43rd position with all factors considered, we also lag behind the US (27th), UK (22nd), South Africa (20th), Mexico (31st), Spain (17th), and the Philippines (19th).

At current rates of progress, it will take approximately 132 years to reach total gender parity. Don’t despair - in some aspects, we’re very nearly there.

Where can Australia improve our gender equity?

Thankfully, Australia is close to parity when it comes to Health and Survival as well as Educational Attainment. When it comes to the rights tracked, from divorce and reproductive rights to freedom of movement and access to higher education, Australia stands in good stead.

Where we are lacking is in wage equality, with the pay gap being alive and well across Australian industries (at nearly 13%). We also lack representation of women in government leadership when compared to high-ranking countries, as well as a high incidence of domestic violence.

Australia is moving closer to parity when it comes to economic participation. Women are more prevalent in care work (paid and unpaid), education and personal well-being while STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields remain male-dominated. Thankfully, we are seeing these trends begin to become unseated.

How can I get even with my finances?

If moving to NZ isn’t an option, you might be wondering how you can get even with your own finances.

With wealth accumulation set off balance by unequal career trajectories and the burden of care placed on women, it’s especially important to stay informed and financially savvy. Discussing your salary, knowing how and when to ask for more money, and being a sensible saver will pay back in droves.

Starting off on unequal footing makes it all the more important to save wisely, pay attention to your super and do your research. Don’t let long-held gender gaps in financial literacy carry on.

Want to know how else Australia stacks up to the rest of the world? Read about our attitudes towards finance. Figure out how to keep the cost of living under control with our guide to creating a budget.

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