Most of us would instinctively say yes and we would probably even be confident to have a stab at which ones they are.
" Some developed economies have experienced a rather embarrassing backwards slide [in equality]."
Elizabeth Masamune, Managing Director of @Asia Associates Japan
A quick look down the rankings of the Global Gender Gap Index 2016, published every year by the World Economic Forum, confirms what we might have guessed in relation to some countries.
We can see some cultural, religious or historical reasons which are obvious enough. But the survey also reveals quite a few hidden eye-openers - and some uncomfortable challenges to our own carefully constructed self-image and perceptions of the workplace.
Nor is gender equality – something now almost universally recognised as socially and economically desirable, with a solid and expansive body of research behind it – the domain of the developed world.
Some developed economies have experienced a rather embarrassing backwards slide - notably Japan, despite prime minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘womenomics’ campaign.
And quite a few supposedly underdeveloped nations demonstrate a markedly egalitarian approach to utilising all their people, male and female - the Philippines and Laos stand out.
THE DEVELOPED WORLD HAS IT NAILED (OR DOES IT?)
Now it won’t surprise many to hear the top four spots on the index of 144 countries represented are traditionally occupied by Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
Those who have ever visited unassuming New Zealand may not raise an eyebrow to find it featuring consistently in the top 10 - nine in 2015 and 10 in 2016.
European countries in the top 20 with good economic empowerment, educational attainment and a strong history of women in Ministerial positions or as Head of State include Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany.
In contrast, the far more male-dominated cultures of Italy (50), Russia (75), and Greece (90) show economic and political empowerment lagging well behind.
Who comes next on the global gender equality ladder? Shared values may lull us into assuming sophisticated democracies like Australia, Canada and the United States should feature closely behind their leading European cousins.
The stark reality could not be more different. Moreover, the alarming results of the 2016 survey indicate not only is the gender gap bigger than it should be in these countries, it is in fact widening.
Australia fell from 36 in 2015 to 46 in 2016, marginally ahead of the United States which plummeted from 28 in 2015 to 45. Even Canada, which many would consider nothing if not egalitarian, found itself dropping 5 ranks from 30 to 35 in 2016.
Sure, this is relative. At one level it simply means another country may have improved faster. But as Hillary Clinton demonstrated in spectacular style, the glass ceiling is made of very strong stuff for women in politics in these countries and the lack of political empowerment for women is a major factor dragging them down.
To add to this, in Australia and Canada alike, there was a disturbing widening of the income gap between men and women over the past year.
A TOUR AROUND THE ASIA PACIFIC
If we take a quick tour around Asia Pacific, there are more than a few unexpected rankings along with some not-so-surprising ones.