Kyrre Lien/AP
Norwegian minister of finance Kristin Halvorsen

Norway Is Number One in Gender Equality; US Narrows the Gap

November 15, 2008 09:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A new study calls Norway the world leader in gender equality, but the United States has also succeeded at closing the gender gap, particularly in politics.

Norway Closing Gap

In a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, Norway and three other Nordic nations were found to be leaders “in closing the gender gap,” according to BBC News. Norway has the thinnest gender gap of any nation in the study, which “surveyed economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.” The study also identified a link between a nation’s competitiveness and its gender gap; countries that fail to involve women equally could be losing a competitive edge. 

The International Herald Tribune said the survey attributed the Nordic countries’ “strong liberal societies, government transparency, welfare systems and wide access for women to education, and political and work opportunities” as helping them succeed in closing the gender gap.

The United States came in at number 17, but has made recent strides in the political sphere, despite an August 2008 Pew survey indicating otherwise. The survey suggested that women in power are more trusted than their male counterparts, and considered more honest and intelligent than men with regards to leadership. But female leaders in politics were a different story.  In the survey, only 6 percent of respondents said women were stronger political leaders than men, while 69 percent felt men and women were equally adept as political leaders.

But in the wake of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, others have expressed excitement for American women. Hilary Rosen, Washington editor-at-large for the Huffington Post, told CNN, women have been “creeping and leaping” their way to progress this year. Rosen and others were not dismayed by female losses at the polls, and instead saw headway being made. “Women are about 54 percent of the vote. Do we have equal representation? No. Are we closer to it? Yes,” Rosen told CNN.

Furthermore, a record 74 women will sit in the House of Representatives, in addition to 17 female senators. And President-elect Barack Obama could potentially appoint several women to “prominent roles.” Karen Kornbluh, Obama’s policy adviser, is expected to be among the President’s key cabinet members, CNN reported.

Opinion & Analysis: Inequality or different choices?

In an October editorial for the Fresno Bee, Barbara C. Lydick highlighted factors influencing the gender gap, “prime among them choices women make.” When women decide to raise a family, major in less lucrative fields like education and social sciences, shy away from “physically strenuous” but “well compensated” jobs, and work fewer hours than men, they have chosen their status, not been victims of gender inequality, Lydick indicates.

Related Topic: Wimbledon prize money

Reference: Hilary Clinton and equal pay


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