A new study has revealed that Finland is the best country in the EU for women in the workplace.

Personal finance experts Finansvalp analysed Eurostat data on seats held by women in national parliaments, women in senior management positions, and the 2022 median net income by gender in the 27 EU member countries. Each country was given a gender-equality score out of 50 and ranked from worst to best.  

Finland topped the study as the best country for gender equality in the workplace. The country ranked above every other destination due to a high percentage of women in senior roles nationwide. Women make up 72.4% of seats in the national government, the highest percentage of any country in the EU. Finland also placed second for the share of women in seats at national parliament with 46%. Despite a high volume of women taking on senior positions in the country, the gender pay gap still seems to be an issue in Finland. The median net income for men in 2022 sat at €27,353, while women earned 6.04% less on average with €25,719. 

“I am extremely pleased with the equality we have in Finland. Finns are pragmatic. They place high value on autonomy and task-oriented work relationships. I consider myself fortunate to be part of one of the most supportive organizations to work for in the country. I feel genuinely fortunate to be talking with Professors of both genders that do not look down on me even though I don’t share their academic credentials, and who support me in my work,” says Katja Longhurst, Communications Manager for the 6G Flagship at the University of Oulu, Finland.

Finland, rated as the happiest country in the world for six years in a row, may top the list for gender equality in the workplace, with a high percentage of women employed as decision-makers in the government sector. But it is not yet a plain sailing road. According to a report published by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in 2022, and updated last December, the pay gap between women and men has decreased slowly in Finland, with the average earnings of women being 84% of the amount earned by men throughout the labour market in 2022.

“My personal experience has been that young men, just recently onboarded, are more easily offered advancement opportunities. This is what happened to me in a company I worked previously. Of course it felt like my university degree and quite a bit of more working experience didn’t weigh against the young whipper snapper. But then again, the same happened to a young woman whose career within the company rocketed. So, perhaps me noticing the young man getting ahead and not until much later the woman getting ahead was a gender bias on my part. All in all, it’s a matter of being a competent, trusted face in the right place at the right time. It also helps to be very extroverted and verbally agile,” says Longhurst.

Portugal was the only EU nation where female workers earned more than men on average in 2022 | Photo: Paulo Evangelista

Portugal fell just short of Finland, ranking second for gender equality in the workplace. In 2022, the median net income in Portugal was higher for women than men, positioning the country as the only EU nation where female workers earn more on average. Women took home a median net income of €11,038, 0.53% more than the median wage of €10,979 for men. While annual earnings propelled Portugal near the top of the study, the country had the sixth lowest share of female executives, with women counting for only 16.9% of executives at Portugal’s largest publicly listed companies. 

France claimed third spot on the study of the EU countries with the most gender-equal workplaces. The country rated high for gender equality thanks to a large percentage of women in leadership roles in some of its biggest publicly listed companies. Women made up 46.1% of board members at these major corporations, the highest percentage of any EU country. One of every four executives at the same companies are women (29%), second only behind Lithuania.  

Sweden placed fourth on the study for gender equality in the workplace. The country is home to the most gender-equal parliament in the EU. Approximately 46.6% of seats in the national parliament are held by females, more than any other nation. Sweden also has the fourth-highest percentage of female executives at the country’s large public organisations, with women representing 28.6% of all executives.  

The Netherlands rounded out the top five EU countries for women in employment. The country ranked high for female representation in the national government (53.6%) and national parliament (29%). While women make up a large proportion of seats at government and parliament level, men still tend to earn more on average in the Netherlands. According to the 2022 median net income, men earn 5.28% more than women in the country.  

Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Germany, and Lithuania filled out the top 10 EU countries with the most gender-equal workplaces. Spain and Germany rated high for female representation at government and parliament level, while Lithuania claimed 10th place on the study thanks to the highest share of female executives of any EU nation.  

The decade between 2012 and 2022, saw the gender pay gap fell by 3.7 percentage points in the EU, decreasing from 16.4 per cent to 12.7 per cent. However, according to a new report from the World Bank, the global gender gap is far wider than previously thought.

The 10th edition of the women, business and the law report, published on Monday, concluded that no country in the world currently affords women the same opportunities as men in the workforce.