Education and Skills

This is how rich countries feel about women in power

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a news conference with Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki (unseen) during the Western Balkans Summit 2018 at Lancaster House in London, Britain, July 10, 2018.Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS - RC1859EB96B0

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel Image: REUTERS

Lin Taylor
Journalist, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Education and Skills?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how United Kingdom is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

United Kingdom

Britons are the most comfortable of the G7 nations with being led by women, a survey found on Tuesday, while Germans - with Europe's longest-serving female head - ranked poorly.

Britain scored top in supporting women in politics and business with 72 out of 100 points, closely followed by France and Canada, the Women Political Leaders Global Forum found, while Germany and Italy were worst, with 59 and 57 points.

Image: Reykjavik Index for Leadership

"There is still so much to do in getting society to look at the individual abilities of a person, no matter which gender," said Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a German ex-parliamentarian who founded the network of female politicians behind the survey.

The United Nations has made women's equal participation in politics by 2030 one of its global development goals, and it says more women in leadership also drives economic growth.

In 2017, there were 32 women leading Fortune 500 companies - an all-time high, according to the US-based Pew Research Center, and only about one in four lawmakers are female, Inter-Parliamentary Union data shows.

Germany had the greatest difference between the sexes in the world's seven richest countries, with men less comfortable with female leaders, researchers found after quizzing some 10,000 people aged between 15 and 65 how they felt about women leaders.

Angela Merkel, 64, has dominated German and European politics since she became chancellor in 2005, and is one of the longest serving leaders of a major country. She announced last month that she will not seek re-election in 2021.

Have you read?

The new index was launched at the Women Leaders Global Forum, where over 400 women political leaders gathered in Reykjavik in Iceland, the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women.

While there is no proof that women leaders do more to advance women's rights than men, experts say they can boost the profile of often-overlooked issues, such as violence against women and the gender pay gap.

"Our explicit goal was for a world in which an index of 100 is the norm. We believe in a world where men and women have an equal opportunity to lead," said Michelle Harrison, head of research company Kantar Public, which conducted the survey.

"But what we understand is that there are proportions of people across the G7 who are not very comfortable with it," Harrison told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Education and SkillsEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Bringing back curiosity: How digital tools can help us rethink education

Rahmin Bender-Salazar, Breanne Pitt and Christian Roth

June 13, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum