SOMETIMES it's hard to be a woman -- but not if you live in Ireland.
Irish women are continuing to close the gap on their male counterparts, according to a new survey examining the gender gap.
Ireland is now ranked the fifth best place for women to live and work -- higher than the UK or the United States, and below only Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The new World Economic Forum report, which took in 135 countries, found that only Scandinavian women are more equal to their men when it comes to economics, education, health and politics.
Ireland appears to be comfortable with women in power and scored highly for having a female head of state for 21 out of the past 50 years, while education levels are also high.
The index showed that more women took part in secondary and third level education in Ireland than other countries in the study.
The report also found that Irish women are more likely to be employed in the professional and technical sectors than anywhere else.
Irish women still do not compete with men in some professions, with only 36pc of women being medical and dental consultants, while just 5pc of members of the Oireachtas are female.
However, the gender gap in Ireland is much narrower than our neighbours in Britain, who came in 18th place.
Ireland was also far ahead of Germany (13th), the US (22nd) and France (56th).
The Gender Gap Index, which started in 2006, follows countries' progress and highlights the nations that split resources most equally between men and women, regardless of overall wealth.
The study does not compare countries with each other, but measures the gap between male and female experience in each nation.
Therefore, although Irish women only earn 73pc as much as Irish men, it still compares favourably against the female experience in other countries.
The study is conducted in a way that means that women in poorer countries can also score highly on the index once they do not experience major discrimination.
Irish women have been making steady progress and have moved up from 10th six years ago.
Denmark, New Zealand, the Philippines, Nicaragua and Switzerland also featured in the top 10.
Iceland featured as the number one country on the Gender Gap Index for the fourth year running.