The Gender Equality World Cup

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is entering the single-elimination phase, and Mark Leon Goldberg is taking a look at how the teams would do if victory were decided in terms of gender equality. Here’s how he did it:

I consulted the UN Development Program’s Human Development Index for statistics on gender equality. This is an index that ranks countries by social indicators like literacy rates and child mortality. In 2010, for the first time, the Human Development Index included five gender equality indicators as part of its formula to rank countries based on their human development. These included: 1) Maternal mortality ratio; 2) The male-female ratio of people who have achieved secondary education; 3) The fertility rate of women aged 15-19 years; 4) The labor force participation rate for women; and 5) the share of women in parliament.

Anyone can visit the Human Development Index website and build their own chart using the hundreds of the indicators available. I have chosen to use those five indicators above (and give them equal weight) to develop my Gender Equality Index.

Based on those statistics, the Gender Equality Index generates scores to rank countries. The Netherlands scores highest with 0.687. Afghanistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia tie for last with a score of 0. (Next comes Yemen, with a score of 0.096). I’ve used these scores to match FIFA Women’s World Cup teams against each other, with the margin of victory represented as the difference between the two countries’ scores on the Gender Equality Index. (For example, if the Netherlands were to “play” Yemen, the Dutch would win by 0.591.)

Go see who wins.

5 comments for “The Gender Equality World Cup

  1. July 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Well, Goldberg picks Sweden and rightly so on both counts — they look strongest on the pitch and best off of it.

    We’ve often joked that gay marriage is good for winning men’s championships (as in the World Cup final last year where Spain and the Netherlands, two countries where gay marriage is legal, battled it out in a host nation which also permits same-sex marriage.)

    But there’s little doubt that there’s a strong correlation between support for women’s athletics and support for women, period.

    What we really need is title IX for FIFA. If you want to send a team to compete in the men’s world cup competitions (or the local things, like the Euro or Copa America or African Nations) you MUST field and FUND a woman’s team too.

  2. bhuesca
    July 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Very interesting! Thanks for the link, Jill!

    I just worry that these correlating factors and the relative lack of melanin of the top teams won’t lead some people to wrongly assume causation of a country’s relative worth WRT the lack of predominately black/brown/Muslim nations at the top- this was just a fun exercise!

  3. July 8, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Before I get in trouble, let me make clear that my comment on Sweden looking good off the pitch was a reference to that nation’s commitment to gender equity — not to the attractiveness of the players. Sigh.

  4. Avida Quesada
    July 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    That’s progres.

    BY the way I hope that in this :
    2) The male-female ratio of people who have achieved secondary education;

    Does a country were the balance favor females receive a similar number were a country were the balance favor men in the same proportion?

    If not, this is more a women well-being index. Taking into account the current state of mos countries (severe to brutal patriarchy ) that will be a super important index but it won be “gender equality” index.

    If fact, I will bet it does not. I looked into the health dimension measure. It includes only “maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate”.

    That not only avoids any potential area were the well being of men are not so good compared to women (says labor accidents or almost anything heath related) but also means that a country with poor health care for women can score hight on the index.

    With the desire to exclude men at the center of the definition, they forgot that we are more than mothers. In fact I am not a mother.
    Too sad.


  5. AndersH
    July 10, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Avida, that’s also true of the Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum, where 1.00 is the highest score considered (ie, if there is more representation by women, you don’t get a 1.xx score):

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with that at this time. Maybe in 20 years that will be an important distinction to make, but I think that current structural issues of patriarchy render that point somewhat moot.

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