The World Economic Forum Releases Their 2024 Global Gender Gap Report

Every year, the World Economic Forum releases their Global Gender Gap Index report, aiming to track the status of gender parity across the world through four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The 2024 report has found that while some areas have shown progress in closing their gender gaps, global gender parity is unlikely to be achieved for another five generations.

Since the initial Global Gender Gap Index was released in 2006, most economies and countries have seen significant improvement in gender equity. Out of the 146 countries around the world included in the study, 97 percent have closed more than 60 percent of their gender gap, a significant increase from 85 percent in 2006.

However, the rate of progress differs significantly across the continents. Europe leads the gender parity rankings with a 75 percent closed gender gap. North America’s gender parity score was close behind at 74.8 percent, and was the only region to achieve 100 percent gender parity in educational attainment. Latin America and the Caribbean scored in third place with 74.2 percent and experienced the most overall progress since 2006, closing their gender gap by 8.3 percentage points. The Middle East and North Africa ranked last of all regions analyzed, but nonetheless improved their gender gap score by nearly 4 percentage points over the past 18 years.

Seven out of the top 10 countries with the smallest gender gaps were European, with Iceland taking the top spot at 93.5 percent, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, and Spain. The non-European countries in the top 10 rankings were New Zealand, Nicaragua, and Namibia. The United States ranked 43rd in gender parity out of all 146 countries studied.

While the reasons for gender gaps can be unique to each region, most countries displayed gender inequities in economic leadership positions. The report found that women account for 42 percent of the global workforce, but only 31.7 of senior leaders. Notably, the share of women in leadership roles has decreased from 37.5 percent in 2021 to 36.4 percent in 2024. This was particularly found among STEM industries, where women represent just 28.2 percent of the STEM workforce. However, the field of artificial intelligence stands out among STEM industries, as the share of women scientists in AI engineering as more than doubled since 2016. While women still represent a smaller percentage of the AI workforce, improvements in AI gender parity have been found in education, manufacturing, technology, and media sectors.

The authors write, “Economies cannot risk falling behind and throwing millions of women and girls back into times of strife and need. Big lifts in economic gender parity are needed to ensure that women have unfettered access to resources, opportunities and decision-making positions.” In light of their findings, they call on governments around the world to “expand and strengthen the framework conditions needed for business and civil society to work together in making gender parity an economic imperative – one that fulfills the most basic of needs and inspires the very edges of innovation.”

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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