The Status of Working Women in Sweden

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The Status of Working Women in Sweden

Junichiro Matsumoto
University of California, Irvine
October 25, 2011

Sweden has been the top-runner in the world for creating a better environment for working women. Both comparisons to the past and men, women have kept growing their presence in the society since the 1960s. As their presences strengthen, their pay has gone up as well, but not quite as much as the man. As for type of jobs, women work in workplaces where the customer needs more hospitality. What are helping the women so much are the flextime system and the country level mentality to obtain the gender equality. Sweden will be one of the best countries for working woman now, and for the future.

Due to their overall objectives of gender equality policy to ensure that women and men have the same power to shape society and their own lives, Sweden has made effort to achieve gender equality in working environment. When the economy was in the rapid growth in the 1960s, creating equal working opportunity for women was considered to be the best way to support the economy growth ( Through several social reforms in the 1970s, women’s employment rate has grown up by 40% until now, while men’s rate decreased. Now Sweden is considered as one of the most advanced countries in the world in gender equality. In Figure 1, statistics from Eurostat 2008 shows that Sweden have the world’s lowest difference in male and female employment rate ( Looking into more specific figures, Sweden provides 68 weeks of paid maternity leave which is world’s most longest ( These statistics show that Sweden’s effort on creating chance for working woman has come to reality. Being a pioneer in workplace equality, Sweden has the smallest difference between male and female employment rates when compared to any other countries.

Comparison of Working women in the Past and Present
Comparison of Working Women and Working Men:
Working women in Sweden have improved their presence in the society compared to the past while the employment of men kept a steady figure. We can see the growth of gainful employment rate of women in Figure 2. From 1970 to 1990 women’s employment grew firm. During the recession in the early 1990s, the rate dropped for both women and men, and is now slowly recovering ( ).

Talking about work pay, working woman in Sweden have improved their wages, but not quite as much as the men. Sweden experienced remarkable decline in gender wage difference in the 1960s and 1970s, but it remained in that level from 1980 to 2000, even though education and work opportunity difference decreased at the same time ( Compared to men, we can see in Figure 3 that woman receives 92% of what in men does in 2008 basis, eliminating the differences in age, educational background, full-time/part-time, sector and occupational group. As for types of jobs, working woman has more presence in public sector and more in jobs that needs hospitality like health-care, education, and shop sales-persons. We can clearly see in Figure 4 that public sector has been creating the employment for women in the past. However, number of employees in the private sector in both permanent and temporary employees increased as the public sector. We can see in Figure 5, that as of 2008 basis, more women work as medical assistant, care workers, shop sales-persons, teachers, while men indulge more in technical and manual labors.

Improvements in the working conditions for woman:
One of the most distinguishing facts about working in Sweden affects both men and women, it is the Flextime. Flextime is a system which allows workers to break with the routine as well...
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