• BDW

Cities with the Best Economic & Employment Outlook for Women

Dataset compares cities based on statistics relating to the gender pay gap, women’s rights and women in leadership positions, as well as their economic outlook based on COVID-19 lockdown measures.

  • Denmark has the best economic and employment outlook for women, with a relatively low COVID-19 economic impact, the highest score for workers’ rights and women’s rights and equality, a high score for women in leadership positions and a relatively low gender pay gap.

  • Finland has the best parental leave policy in the index, while Norway has the best overall average scores for gender equality.

  • Singapore is the city with the best economic and employment outlook overall, with a relatively low COVID-19 economic impact, good opportunities for young people and women, an efficient government, and high disposable income.  

  • South-East Asian cities Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo have the lowest estimated impact on the economy due to COVID-19, due to governmental policies regarding lockdown and relative virus rates.

London, United Kingdom, May, 2020 — FutureLearn, the online learning platform built on social pedagogy, has released a data-driven study revealing the economic and employment outlook for 100 top global cities. The comparative dataset is based on the impact of COVID-19 lockdown measures, as well as statistics relating to gender equality and women’s leadership to determine the cities with the best opportunities for women.


C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research was quoted as saying: “We should go ahead and call this a ‘shecession’”, as women are being hit much harder than men during this crisis in terms of unemployment. As many people around the world are now searching for new opportunities and ways to rebuild their lives, FutureLearn hopes that this dataset can be used to help women focus their job search in cities which have both a strong outlook for employment going into the future, but which also have progressive gender equality laws and infrastructure in place.


How the study was conducted:

Commissioning this study late in 2019, FutureLearn aimed to use data and statistics to determine the best cities for jobs, but since research began, the COVID-19 pandemic transformed every aspect of our lives, not least the economy and global career prospects. To confirm this, a poll* was conducted in some of the countries featured in this index such as France, Italy and the USA who have undergone governmental lockdown. It was found that, on average, 50% of respondents had either lost their job entirely or had had their earning capacity reduced in some manner since the start of the pandemic. In terms of gender split, there was not a statistically significant difference between men and women in terms of reported negative impact on their economic status in the USA and the UK. However, in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, 39% of men and 53% of women recorded a negative impact to their economic status, reflecting the understanding that women have been harder hit by this pandemic economically than men.

To conduct the study, a list of 100 cities around the globe which are renowned for their economic, educational, and aspirational opportunities was first determined. Whether a city has a strong economic position is an important indicator of job opportunities, so data was collected relating to the pre-COVID-19 GDP growth rate, as well as the number of new startups to illustrate if a city is a hub for innovation. To help determine the pandemic’s impact on the job market, these statistics were then compared with the latest unemployment rate versus the projected unemployment rate according to the International Monetary Fund. The Government’s response to COVID-19 in terms of the support offered to businesses such as loans and financial help to both individuals and companies, and plans set in place to help ailing industries was analysed next.


Governmental policies were analysed next, focusing on workers’ rights, parental leave laws, governmental efficacy, and immigration statistics and sentiment. While the economy and government play a large role in what makes a city good for work, job-seekers must also consider quality of life, so data was gathered relating to health spending, cost of living and average disposable income. Finally, statistics on the gender wage gap, women’s rights and legislation, and women’s opportunities for career progression were included to illustrate if there are equal opportunities regardless of gender. The final index shows which cities excelled in job openings pre-COVID-19 and where the response to the pandemic has assured that their economy can continue to thrive in these uncertain times.

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