The Nations Where Gender Inequality Is Least And Greatest

A new visualization of 188 countries puts the data in stark–and depressing–relief.

In most countries, the dice are still stacked against women. They find it harder than men to get decent jobs and educations. They receive less income for what they do. And they’re not well represented politically–or least not equally represented.


This continuing reality is highlighted with these graphics from Ri Liu, a designer based in Melbourne, Australia. “My hope is that people will look at this visualization and realize that we still have a lot of work in order to achieve gender equality. We are definitely not there yet,” she says.

Liu’s Close the Gap series compares 188 countries across four measures: parliamentary participation, labor force participation, secondary education levels, and income. Unsurprisingly, the biggest gaps tend to be in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. For example, women in Jordan earn 577% less than their male peers. In Afghanistan, there’s a 64% gap in labor participation (80% versus 16%). And in India, there’s a 24% divide in secondary education (50% for boys against 27% for girls).

Richer countries tend to be more equal for education and income, but not for political representation. For example, on the political spectrum, France and Australia have similar levels as Honduras and South Sudan, with three times as many male politicians as female ones. But then some poorer countries do have high rates on this measure. Women in Rwanda hold 64% of available seats, and the gap is actually for men to deal with for a change.

“I wanted people to feel unsettled by the extreme inequality that exists in some countries, for example when countries have no women in parliament,” Liu says. Four countries occupy this ignoble list, starting with Palau and Qatar. Even the Islamic Republic of Iran manages at least some women in its parliament–at about 3% participation, according to the latest figures.

Liu has been interested in gender inequality for a while. Her last project visualized the employment gap in the U.S. tech industry. Despite progress, it’s still more of a man’s world.


About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.