If you prefer to work for a woman, the odds aren’t in your favor.
But they’re improving. A recent study from the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland looked at women in the workplace internationally and found that the proportion of managers who were women increased in 80 out of 104 countries during the last decade. The increase was by 7 percent or more in 23 of those countries.
“Women are running more businesses, and consumer-spending decisions are increasingly in their hands,” Guy Ryder, director general of ILO, wrote in the report. “These realities often seem to be overlooked, even though there is an intensive search for global talent and skills as economies are based increasingly on knowledge and technology.”
Some countries are doing better than others. Jamaica, where 59.3 percent of all managers are women, took the top spot on ILO’s ranking of 126 countries from highest to lowest women’s percentage share of all managers. Colombia and St. Lucia round out the top three, with 53.1 percent and 52.3 percent of management spots held by women.
The U.S. came in 15th, with 42.7 percent of management spots held by women.
Middle East and North African countries heavily concentrated around the bottom of the list. Women in Pakistan have the smallest percentage share of management positions, at 3 percent. View the top and bottom 10 countries on the list above. While ILO ranked 126 countries, the highest rank was 108 due to several ties.
ILO used the most recent available data for each country. For the U.S., that data came from 2008. The oldest data on the list is from 2004. The newest is from 2012.
ILO survey respondents were asked to ranked the most significant barriers to women’s leadership. The top response: “Women have more family responsibilities than men.” Other popular responses concern the lack of female role models, insufficient management experience and masculine corporate cultures at companies. The least significant barrier was inadequate labor and non-discrimination laws.
The report also pointed to a 2013 Catalyst Inc. survey looking at the percentage of board seats held by women in various countries. In Finland, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom, more than 20 percent of board seats are held by women. In the U.S., 10 to 20 percent of board seats are held by women.
Thirty percent of respondent companies have no women on their boards, according to the ILO survey. Thirteen percent have gender-balanced boards, with 40 to 60 percent of seats held by women. And most of them are led by men. Thirteen percent of company boards that responded to ILO have a women president.
Companies looking to advance women in the workplace should provide evidence on the business case for more female managers, network with other companies on good practices and provide good practice examples of strategies to promote women in management, according to ILO. For more information on those strategies or additional details on the study, visit the full report here.