In general, the UK is a pretty decent place to be a woman. It may have ranked a feeble 20th place in the World Economic Forum's 2016 Global Gender Gap report, but compared with the countries at the bottom of the list, we have a pretty sweet deal. We have the right to the same education as men, are allowed to drive and don't need permission from a male guardian to make basic life choices.
However, there is wide variation across England, Wales and Scotland when it comes to women-friendliness, new findings from the National Centre for Social Research suggest. The analysis, commissioned by BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, looked at factors including the gender pay gap, housing, education, happiness, life satisfaction, access to green spaces, general living and wellbeing.
A total of 380 local authorities were compared but Northern Ireland wasn't included in the research, which used data from various sources including the Office for National Statistics' 2016 Annual Population Survey and the 2011 Census.
The best place to be a woman? East Dunbartonshire on the Glasgow border, apparently. The Scottish local authority scored highly on a number of factors, including education (11th), quality of the local environment (16th), personal wellbeing (40th) and income (46th). But it fared poorly for housing affordability and life expectancy at birth (women in the area are expected to live to 83.5 years of age).
Most of the top-rated local authorities were in the southeast of England (60%), including West Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, along with areas in the West Midlands (Stafford and Shropshire).
The lowest-ranking areas are slightly more surprising. Women in London may want to reconsider their life choices, according to the rankings – and not just because of the extortionate cost of housing. Four of the 10 lowest-ranking areas were London boroughs (Islington, the City of London, Westminster and Camden), with Islington being ranked the worst place in Britain to be a woman.
Women living in the north London borough report the lowest levels of happiness, life satisfaction, feelings that their life is worthwhile and showed the highest levels of anxiety. The notoriously unequal borough also scored poorly for environmental quality, safety and housing affordability. The median house price in the area is a staggering 16 times the median income.
However, the results were different when they were broken down by age. Among women under 30, the worst place to live was Kingston Upon Hull, due to its high unemployment rate, poor environmental quality, life expectancy and safety. Despite many of us flocking to London in our 20s, young women ranked West Oxfordshire as the best place to live, due to its low unemployment and high safety, culture, personal wellbeing and education.
The best local authorities for women in Great Britain
1. East Dunbartonshire (Scotland)
2. East Renfrewshire (Scotland)
3. West Oxfordshire (South East)
4. West Berkshire (South East)
5. South Oxfordshire (South East)
6. Winchester (South East)
7. Mid Sussex (South East)
8. Wycombe (South East)
9. Stafford (West Midlands)
10. Shropshire (West Midlands)
The worst local authorities for women in Great Britain
1. Islington (London)
2. Blackpool (North West)
3. Corby (East Midlands)
4. Boston (East Midlands)
5. Kingston Upon Hull (Yorkshire and the Humber)
6. Burnley (North West)
7. City of London (London)
8. Westminster (London)
9. Wolverhampton (West Midlands)
10. Camden (London)