US Working Women Trail Developed World For Paid Maternity Leave, Child Care Costs

Written by Dana Sanchez

U.S. workplaces score highest among 27 developed countries for share of senior managers who are women and lowest for paid maternity leave on the Glass Ceiling Index.

The U.S. also scores poorly among 27 developed countries — in the bottom five — for child care costs and for women in government.

The Glass Ceiling Index was created by The Economist to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

It shows where women have the best chances of equal treatment at work in 27 developed countries. The Glass Ceiling Index combines data on higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity leave, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs. Each country’s score is a weighted average of its performance on nine indicators.

Only 13 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, Maya Dusenbery reported in Pacific Standard Magazine.

Overall, the U.S. ranked 17th out of 27 — barely within the OECD averages — for equal treatment at work. Based in Paris, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is an intergovernmental economic organisation of 35 member countries that identify as being committed to democracy and the market economy. It provides a platform to compare polices, find answers to common problems, and identify good practices of its members. Most OECD members are high-income economies and are regarded as developed countries.

These are the 27 countries on the Glass Ceiling Index, listed here in order of overall ranking: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Hungary, Canada, Spain, Israel, Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Netherlands, Australia, U.S., Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy, Britain, Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea.

Child care in the U.S. costs women 35.5 percent of average wages, landing the U.S. at No. 24 out of 27 countries for child care costs, according to the Glass Ceiling Index.

The U.S. ranked dead last — 27th out of 27 countries — for paid maternity leave. Poland ranked No. 1, with 24 weeks of maternity leave paid at 100 percent.

Almost one in four U.S. women who take leave to care for a new baby take only two weeks off or less, according to an analysis by research firm Abt Associates from a 2012 survey conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor. About half of those women are back at work in less than a week, according to Pacific Standard:

The impact of our terrible federal family leave mandate does not fall evenly. And as elite employers — like Microsoft, Netflix, and Adobe, to name the latest — are increasingly competing for talent by announcing generous paid family leave policies, the disparity is destined to grow. Netflix’s new much-criticized two-tier parental leave policy — 12 months for well-compensated, salaried employees on the digital side but just 12 weeks for the lower-paid, hourly workers shipping DVDs — reflects the reality in the U.S. economy writ large: We may be a nation of paupers when it comes to support for working parents, but there are still haves and have-nots.

US women rank No. 1 for share of senior managers

The U.S. scored 100 percent — highest on The Economist’s Glass Ceiling Index — for share of senior managers in the workplace, followed by New Zealand, France, Australia and Hungary. The bottom five included Netherlands, Czech Republic, Denmark, South Korea and Japan.

The U.S. also ranked relatively high for women on company boards, landing in the top five countries on the Glass Ceiling Index.

For women in government/parliament, not so much. U.S. women ranked 23rd, better only than South Korea, Ireland, Hungary and Japan.

In 2016, women held just 23 percent of government offices, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. There are four times as many male senators as female, and out of the 100 largest cities in the country, just 19 are led by female mayors, Time reported.

U.S. women ranked seventh on the Glass Ceiling Index for GMAT candidates — an entrance exam for business schools.

The U.S was below the OECD average for gender wage gap between women and men, ranking 17th out of 27 countries.

If change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past 50 years, it will take 44 years — until 2059 — for U.S. women to reach pay parity. For black women, the rate of change is even slower. Black women will have to wait until 2124 for equal pay, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The institute tracks the gender wage gap across states by race or ethnicity and age. During the last 20 years there has been little progress in gender integration of work. In some industries and occupations like construction, there has been no progress in 40 years.

This persistent occupational segregation is a primary contributor to the lack of significant progress in closing the wage gap.