The latest Women in Work Index report by professional services firm PwC said that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales outperformed most English regions in this regard.
This was “likely due to the higher share of public sector employment in these regions that tend to have smaller pay gaps and better female representation at senior levels”.
In 2000, Scotland had one of the highest female unemployment rates in the UK – but since then this has gone from 6 per cent to 4 per cent in 2017, putting the country fifth in the UK rankings for female joblessness.
The annual study looked at the representation and welfare of women in the world of work across 33 OECD countries in 2017.
Overall, the UK improved its perfomance slightly, moving from 14th to 13th position in the ranking.
But the report noted: “Its progress is held back by a stubbornly persistent gender pay gap, which will require concerted government policy and business action to address.”
Iceland and Sweden continued to occupy the top two positions on the index, with New Zealand rising from fourth to third.
But the report said that the UK “performs well” in comparison to the other G7 nations, coming in second only to Canada in this group.
Within the UK, PwC found that the top three performing regions are Scotland, the south west of England and Wales – with the report noting that “these regions have large hospitality sectors and a high concentration of public sector jobs, both of which tend to have more balanced gender representation at all levels and hence smaller pay gaps”.
In comparison Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands and the West Midlands were the three worst performing regions.
Increasing female employment in the UK to the 69 per cent achieved in Sweden could boost Britain’s economy by £178 billion, the report estimated.
Lindsey Paterson, head of diversity and inclusion for PwC in Scotland, said: “Scotland’s strong performance across all metrics shows our country is making significant progress in addressing gender imbalance. The issue is clearly moving up the political agenda and is something all businesses must address with a sense of urgency.
“The one area where Scotland is below average is in relation to the number of women in full-time employment, albeit this is offset by the higher level (72 per cent) of female labour force participation.
“Scotland benefits from better female representation at senior levels but to improve overall we must create a culture where ambition and progression is encouraged at all levels, even for those on reduced hours contracts.
“We would also encourage businesses to ensure flexible working policies benefit both male and female workers and allow them to achieve their full potential no matter their family responsibilities.”