By Victoria Masterson

Scotland has fallen from first to fourth place in a UK ranking for working women.

The Women in Work Index from professional services firm PwC is based on five indicators including the gender pay gap, female labour force participation and the proportion of women in full-time employment.

Scotland topped the table in both 2018 and 2019, but in 2020 has fallen behind South West of England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Claire Reid, regional leader for PwC in Scotland, attributed the fall to a number of factors and urged organisations to continue building inclusive cultures that provided women with the same opportunities

as men.

“There is a requirement for change, led by business and government together, to increase focus on supporting the female talent pipeline,” she said.

“This should begin at school age and continue through women’s careers to close the gender pay gap. To improve the Index score in future years, there must also be increased support for flexible working for all genders to reduce the balance of caring responsibilities being placed on women, along with childcare and social care solutions that enable women to participate more in the workforce.”

PwC said rising unemployment amongst women in Scotland – up 5,900 to 52,000 between 2017 and 2018 – was directly linked to Scotland’s performance in the Women in Work Index. There was also a marginal slip in full-time employment amongst women, as well as a fall in self-employment. The one indicator where Scotland continues to make improvements is in the gender pay gap, which narrowed from 16 per cent to 15% between 2017 and 2018. This ranked Scotland ahead of all nine English regions and the UK average gender pay gap of 18% – but behind Northern Ireland and Wales. Internationally, the UK ranks 16th of 33 OECD countries. Iceland and Sweden have led the index for five years.