U.S. News and World Report released a report ranking the best countries for women this Wednesday, and the report placed the United States 15th, behind not only countries like #1 Denmark, #2 Sweden, or #3 Netherlands, but also the U.S.’s close neighbor Canada, who came in at #5.
In the United States, 90 percent of people surveyed believed that women should be entitled to all the same rights as men, but only 66 percent agreed that women actually have the same economic mobility and opportunities afforded to men.
Another factor bringing down the U.S.’s ranking is the pay gap, in which women in the U.S. earn about 80 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. The gap is widened when examining women and men with bachelor’s degrees – in this demographic, women make only 74 cents to every dollar that men make.
Paid maternity leave was another large factor used to determine which countries were best for women. Denmark, ranked number one country for women and for raising kids, offers both parents 52 weeks (one whole year) of paid parental leave. The United States, on the other hand, is the only modern, industrialized country that does not mandate paid maternity leave. This often means that women have to choose between starting a family or losing their jobs. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 15% of private workers in the U.S. have access to any paid family leave at all.
Senior data editor for U.S. New and World Report Deidre McPhillips commented on these rankings on Good Morning America. “In many of the countries that top the best countries for women ranking, perceptions tend to align with reality,” she stated “”Quantitative measures of gender parity in employment, educational attainment, health and political involvement … consistently find Nordic nations toward the top. These countries also tend to have generous parental leave and childcare policies”.
The U.S. improved its overall ranking this year in the best country ranking, but it still has a way to go before becoming number one.
Sources: Yahoo News, 1/15/20; U.S. News & World Report, 1/15/20; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1/15/20; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 1/15/20; Good Morning America 1/15/20.