Norway, Denmark and Sweden have yet again taken the helm of the PwC Women in Work index, which ranks the 27 countries from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The PwC survey also revealed that the eight largest economies in the world (G8) still trail behind when it comes to female economic empowerment. Only Canada and Germany made it in the top 10, ranking as number 6 and 8 respectively.

France ranked 13th, the USA 16th, the UK 18th and Italy and Japan lay at the bottom of the table in 24th and 25th place.

The PwC index is measured by combining five key indicators of female economic empowerment: the equality of earnings with men; the proportion of women in work, both in absolute terms and relative to men; the female unemployment rate; and the proportion of women in full-time employment. These indicators are aggregated to generate index scores on a scale from 0 to 100.

Commenting on UK ranking in the index PwC economist Yong Jing Teow said: "It is disappointing that UK women’s pace of progress in the labour market has been relatively poor since 2000. If we want to see a meaningful change to women’s economic empowerment in the UK, we will have to speed up the rate of change, otherwise we risk falling further behind other high income economies".

The Netherland and Ireland are the OECD countries which have made the biggest progress in female economic empowerment, according to this year’s PwC ranking. The Netherlands and Ireland respectively ranked number 12 and 17. Teow attributes this to a significant narrowing of their gender wage gap in those countries.

Since the first publication of the Index in 2000 the overall performance of OECD countries in women empowerment has improved, but Teow said that the economic crisis had and continue to have an impact in some countries. "Portugal, Spain and Greece all saw their gender wage gaps widen and female unemployment rates increase in 2012, reflecting more general economic weakness in these countries," he said.

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PwC Women in Work Index