Five women sitting on a meeting room.

Where do women have the most opportunities? We conducted a study to find out

Which countries give women the greatest chance for success? Read our study to find out.

3 min read

At N26, we believe that everyone should have the chance to achieve their dreams—regardless of gender. But around the world, women often face barriers to success that aren’t always present for men. To better understand where and why these barriers exist, we conducted our own study, “The Female Opportunity Index 2020/21,”  to figure out which nations had the greatest number of opportunities for women, and pinpoint those areas where women might need the most support. 

This study is an important first step for us to understand the factors preventing people from reaching their full potential and to see how we can champion change and help people to feel more in control of their finances—and in turn, their lives.

How do you measure opportunity? 

So, what exactly does “opportunity” mean? We took into account that opportunities exist in a wide range of areas, and these areas may or may not influence one another. We broke our criteria down into the following, and then took data samples from 100 different countries to find out how women were stacking up across the globe. We took data from the following trusted sources:

  • World Bank
  • Crunchbase
  • OECD
  • GIDD
  • Unesco
  • WEF
  • National Centre for Education Studies
  • UN Human Development IndexLocal Authorities

For every country, we examined these particular criteria:

- The number of female leaders per country. That is, the number of government officials, managers, and entrepreneurs as well as the number of years under a female head of government.

- The number of women working and studying in STEM fields. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—all fields which tend to be male-dominated.

- The gender wage gap, or the difference in wages between men and women doing the same jobs.

- Access to education

- Legislation surrounding women’s rights, such as the right to divorce and laws against discrimination in the workplace.

- The country’s general attitude toward family planning and raising children, which we measured by looking into paid maternity leave.

We averaged our findings together to create a score for each country, between 50 and 100. If a country scored 100 in a certain area, it didn’t necessarily mean they had complete gender equality—it just meant that they were the leader out of the sample. And if a country had a lower score, it signified that women here were likely facing greater barriers to their success than they were in the high-scoring nations.

Leading the “Female Opportunity Index”

Where are women receiving the most equal opportunities? According to our study, Norway and Finland offered the highest score across each category. Nearby Finland, Norway and Iceland came in second and third, respectively.

While female-led governments like those in New Zealand and Germany have been receiving tons of praise in the media recently for handling the COVID pandemic, and this is perhaps reflected by both countries making it into our top ten, the country with the highest score for the percentage of women in government was actually Rwanda. Sweden led the study in terms of female managers, while the USA boasted the most female entrepreneurs. Japan proved to be the leader in terms of access to education for girls and women.

‘Companies who foster female leadership perform better’

In order to best meet our customers’ needs, it’s crucial to understand what those needs are. At N26, we believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to achieve their goals, regardless of gender. 

Adrienne Gormley, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at N26, explains how statistically, empowering women to succeed helps everyone win. “Data has also shown that in countries where there is more gender parity, poverty drops and economies grow,” she says, “while new research has shown that companies who foster female leadership perform better and increase profits. This is something we strongly believe in at N26.”“And yes, there’s much more to life than money,” continues Gormley, “but we think it’s a good place to start.” Making sure that women have the tools they need to feel in control of their finances is just a small stepping stone to help them achieve their dreams. By learning how best to do this, we can do our small part to help make a difference.

By N26

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