Britain’s glass ceiling for women in business and politics means it languishes behind the Nordic countries and some developing nations in the league table of gender equality, according to a report released on Thursday night.
Research by the World Economic Forum found that the UK had failed to improve its 18th place in the rankings following a steady decline from 9th since 2006.
As in 2012, the table was dominated by northern Europe, with Icelandfirst, Finland second, Norway third and Sweden fourth. But a number of middle-income and developing countries were above the UK, including the Philippines (5th), Nicaragua (10th), Cuba (15th), Lesotho (16th) and South Africa (17th). The WEF said the high rankings of poorer countries were mainly due to the participation of women in the workforce.
Britain scored well for female literacy and enrolment in post-primary education, but the study highlighted room for improvement in several areas.
The UK came 35th for economic gender equality but was placed 71st for helping women to find professional and technical positions. For political participation, Britain came 54th for getting women into parliament and 59th for securing ministerial jobs.
Although the UK scored highly for education and health and survival, it was ranked 97th for healthy life expectancy for women.