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US, UK still way behind on women's equality in the workplace

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The US and UK have a lot of catching up to do when in comes to treating women in work well.

[LONDON] The US and UK have a lot of catching up to do when in comes to treating women in work well.

The two largest English-speaking economies ranked 23rd and 13th, respectively, in PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) annual ranking of the representation and welfare of women in the workplace across 33 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand took the first three places, and Nordic countries held five of the top 10. While the UK lags only Canada among the Group of Seven nations, its female participation rate of 57 per cent still significantly lags Sweden's 69 per cent, according to the report published Tuesday in London.

The rewards are great for getting more women into work - the UK economy could get a US$178 billion boost by raising female employment to match levels seen in Sweden. Increasing female employment across all OECD nations could lift gross domestic product by over US$6 trillion, PwC said.

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China and India weren't included in the study as non-OECD nations. China would rank 27th, just ahead of Japan, while India would rank at the bottom, behind Korea, because of low levels of female participation.

The US has fallen 14 places since 2000, when the PwC survey started, as full-time female employment declined, according to PwC.

Britain's gender pay gap remains a key drag on progress, especially in London, where it has "barely budged" since 2010, the report said. New rules introduced last year require all employers with more than 250 staff to publicly report the difference in average pay and bonus between their male and female workers on an annual basis.

BLOOMBERG