Women In Work Index 2020 shows potential of closing gender pay gap

06 March, 2020

On International Women’s Day, PwC has released its 2020 Women In Work Index, which analyses female economic empowerment across 33 OECD countries. It shows that closing the gender pay gap across the OECD could boost GDP by 21% or US$2 trillion, and specifically in Ireland, closing the gap could boost total female earnings by 8% or US$3 billion.

The Women in Work Index is a weighted average of five indicators that reflect female participation in the labour market and equality in the workplace: the gender pay gap, female labour force participation, the gap between male and female labour force participation, female unemployment and female full-time employment rate.

This year’s index has Iceland and Sweden retaining their top two positions for the fifth year in a row, with Slovenia in third place. Czech Republic experienced the biggest improvement in its ranking of all OECD countries, rising four places from 23rd to 19th, owing to small but positive improvements across all the indicators in the Index. The US saw a modest increase in its ranking from 22nd in 2017 to 20th position in 2018.

Although the UK performed above the OECD average and is second only to Canada when compared to other G7 economies, its position has barely budged since 2000 when it stood at 17th position, despite improving its performance across all five indicators.

Ireland falls four places

Ireland recorded the biggest decline (along with Estonia) in the ranking on the PwC Women in Work Index this year, falling by four positions. Analysis is attributing this largely to a widening of the gender pay gap.  

Increasing the female employment rate in Ireland from 53% to match that of Sweden (69%) could boost GDP in Ireland by 13% or US$ 53 billion. Closing the gender pay gap in Ireland could boost total female earnings in Ireland by 8% or US$ 3 billion.

Ger McDonough, Partner, People & Organisation, PwC Ireland, said: “It is disappointing to see Ireland’s overall ranking fall and is largely due to a widening of the gender pay gap from 5.9% in 2017 to 7.5% in 2018.  Ireland has, however, performed well for all the other indicators: female labour force participation, the gap between male and female labour force participation, female unemployment and female full-time employment rate.

“Across the OECD, although progress has been made, the rate of improvement is still slow, despite the prospect of huge economic gains from increasing female participation in the workforce. In order to realise these gains, businesses and governments need to work together to help get more people, including women into work and ensure that there is a fair and equal pay structure. 

This necessitates driving an upskilling agenda, offering more training in digital skills and STEM subjects, supporting retraining into other jobs in sectors where the “human touch” is crucial, and providing opportunities to learn softer skills, such as creativity, problem solving and flexibility. With the right interventions, everyone including women can benefit from the gains in productivity from technology and automation. There is a win-win for businesses and economies here, particularly where on average across the G7 women account for only 30% of the tech workforce - highlighting an under-tapped talent pool.

PwC Ireland narrows its gender pay gap to 4.7%

In their second year of publication, PwC Ireland reports its 2020 gender pay gap to be 4.7%, an improvement from 5.7% last year. The firm also reports its gender bonus gap now to be 8.8%, an improvement of 3% from 11.8% last year.

Last year, PwC became the first of the ‘Big 4’ Irish professional services firms to voluntarily publish these results, and has committed to publishing the numbers publicly every year as part of a series of actions in the delivery of a Gender Pay Action Plan. 

Emma Scott, People Partner, PwC Ireland, said: “At PwC we believe in being transparent about our gender pay gap and the journey we are on. Our plan for 2020 will be to further progress our gender pay gap action plan, with specific focus on improving the representation of females at the very senior levels in the firm. Continuing to apply a ‘gender lens’ to all recruitment activities will also be critical. While understanding the numbers is key for us, it’s also about holding ourselves accountable to our plan. Ultimately, it’s all about creating an inclusive culture while engaging proactively with our people.”


Notes to editors:

If the female employment rate across the OECD matched that of Sweden, OECD GDP could be boosted by over US$6 trillion - according to this latest PwC’s Women in Work Index. 

OECD data has been used for the gender pay gap calculations. This is defined as the difference between median earnings of men and women relative to median earnings of men and the data is referring to full-time employees. The gender pay gap for Ireland according to the report (OECD) is:

2018 7.5%
2017 5.9%

For more information on PwC's Women in Work Index, please click here.

For PwC Ireland’s Gender Pay Gap report, please click here.

Other useful information 

  1. The five indicators that make up the Women in Work Index are: the gender pay gap, female labour force participation, the gap between male and female labour force participation, female unemployment and female full-time employment rate

  2. The G7 countries include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

  3. For more information on how automation will impact jobs please click here.

  4. For more information about PwC’s global programme, New World. New Skills, aimed at helping millions of people around the world improve their understanding, skills and knowledge for the digital world, please click here.

Women in Work Index ranking - Top 10

(covers 33 OECD countries)

Women in Technology Index ranking

(covers G7 countries only)

1. Iceland 1. Canada
2. Sweden 2. France
3. Slovenia 3. United States
4. New Zealand 4. Germany
5. Luxembourg 5. United Kingdom
6. Norway 6. Italy
7. Denmark 7. Japan
8. Poland  
9. Finland  
10. Belgium  

About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We're a network of firms in 156 countries with over 295,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network or one or more of its member firms or both, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see pwc.com/structure for further details.

© 2022 PwC. All rights reserved

Contact us

Gerard McDonough

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 87 224 1517

Johanna Dehaene

Corporate Communications, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Follow PwC Ireland