It's getting even harder to be a woman

Can golf get more women into the boardroom?
Can golf get more women into the boardroom?

Here's a shocking idea: Gender inequality is getting worse, not better.

The World Economic Forum says in a new report that "equality is in retreat" for the first time since the group starting tracking the issue in 2006.

The report, which examines gender imbalances in economics and the workplace, education, politics and health, found that years of global gains made by women are beginning to erode.

To arrive at their conclusions, researchers examined specific metrics such as female labor force participation, life expectancy and the share of women in elected office.

"In 2017, we should not be seeing progress towards gender parity shift into reverse. Gender equality is both a moral and economic imperative," said Saadia Zahidi, head of education, gender and work at WEF.

The organization described 2017 as "a bad year in a good decade," noting that the global gender gap will take exactly 100 years to close at the current rate of progress. Last year, the forecast was for 83 years.

The timeline is even worse when the researchers looked at just economic inequality. That gap will take 217 years to close if the current slow rate of progress continues.

gender gap still
The World Economic Forum predicts the global gender gap will be closed in 100 years.

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Where is the United States in all this? It's not leading the way forward.

The U.S. slipped four spots to 49th out of 144 countries. It now ranks behind countries including the United Kingdom (15th), Australia (35th) and Bangladesh (47th). Back in 2006, the U.S. was in the 23rd spot.

The organization has said that there are simple ways for the U.S. to improve its standing. For example, it's one of the few advanced economies that doesn't provide women with paid maternity leave.

Other countries are making improvements. According to the report, 82 nations posted gains in 2017, while 60 had negative outcomes.

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According to the report, no country has achieved gender parity when it comes to economic opportunities and work. That means women the world over are paid less and have fewer opportunities at work than their male counterparts.

Here's the ranking of the best 10 countries for gender equality:

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Finland
  4. Rwanda
  5. Sweden
  6. Nicaragua
  7. Slovenia
  8. Ireland
  9. New Zealand
  10. Philippines

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