Women Leaders Index 2022

Welcome to the Women Leaders Index: a league table ranking countries on the proportion of women in senior roles within their national civil services. Produced by Global Government Forum, the Index includes data on G20, EU and OECD countries, backed up by analysis and interviews with senior leaders from high-performing civil services



Data for the Women Leaders Index was first collected 10 years ago, in 2012, and our mission remains the same now as it was then – to shine a light on governments that have been working hard to achieve gender parity within the top ranks of their civil services, and perhaps more importantly to ramp up pressure on those that languish in the lower third of the league table.    

It is widely accepted that civil services with diverse workforces that resemble the populations they serve turn out better policies and better outcomes for citizens. And yet the mean proportion of women in the senior civil service (equivalent to the top five grades) across G20 nations – our main ranking – is less than 30%. Only one G20 country’s bureaucracy has reached gender parity at leadership level and just four more are within 10 percentage points of doing so. There is clearly much more work to be done.

We have to accept that in some countries – those that have very conservative or heavily male-led cultures – change is unlikely to happen any time soon. Indeed, some civil services have actually regressed since 2012. Arguably, where attention is most needed is in the middling civil services that are still some way off achieving gender balance in the highest ranks and yet have made little progress in the two years since our last Index – or indeed even in the decade since data for the Women Leaders Index was first collected.

That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been headway. Many countries have made impressive gains as a result of concerted efforts to make positive change. You can read about two of them – Canada and South Africa – in our ‘Perspectives’, which we hope offer transferable lessons that government departments and organisations around the world can draw on. 

To benchmark civil services’ performance on getting women into senior positions, we also collect figures on the proportion of women elected to national legislative chambers, those holding ministerial posts, and those sitting on publicly-listed private sector boards – providing analysis on these at the end of each section. In the G20 section, we have also included comparisons with the public sector as a whole.

As with everything Global Government Forum does, our aim is to help civil services better themselves – and in turn public services – by sharing best practice they can take inspiration from and enabling them to learn from their peers overseas.

We hope the Women Leaders Index 2022 gives the highest-ranking civil services and those to have made the most progress in recent years the recognition they deserve, whilst offering a snapshot into how some of them have done it. It should also serve as a wake-up call for those most in need of improvement. Let us see what’s changed when we publish the next in this long-running Women Leaders Index series.


The tabs at the top of this website and the following links provide access to our report, which sets out our main findings, and two ‘Perspectives’ which present a deep dive into gender equality issues and initiatives in Canada and South Africa – two of the top-ranking countries in our G20 Index. These Perspectives are based on interviews with senior civil servants. 

You can explore the data in our graphs, which appear in the report as well as on the separate Data page. Read our methodology here

Women Leaders Index production

Author: Mia Hunt

Data: Kate Onslow & Chris Punch

Graphics: Jack Aldane

Graphs: Jane Davey

Editing: Richard Johnstone