• Sweden edition
 
The Local Blogs
'I thought Sweden was paradise for mothers'
Anna Serner, Natalia Brzezinski, and Ebba von Sydow. File photos: TT

'I thought Sweden was paradise for mothers'

Published: 02 Jun 2014 11:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Jun 2014 11:39 GMT+02:00

At 30, my biological clock is clicking in a way that it didn’t when I had my baby at 25. My thoughts are consumed with babies, but also tinged with anxieties about balance. Scores of studies and opinion-makers say that after two kids women begin falling out of the workforce in droves. Two is the tipping point.

I want to be a role model for my daughter and know I’m a better mother when I’m intellectually stimulated and professionally fulfilled. So what’s a woman who wants to have it all to do?

I’ve spent a great deal of my time both in Washington, DC but especially here in Sweden exploring and learning about the infrastructure that parents— not just mothers but fathers— need to succeed. Today, both men and women want work-life balance and the young generation Millennials are calling for new ways of working and new definitions of success.

Follow Natalia's blog for The Local here

And it’s not just about being a mother either. For women choosing to have a family or not - a choice all women should be able to make freely without social pressure - getting ahead in the corporate world is about so much more than just balancing babies and house duties. There are unconscious biases that begin at birth outlining what women are supposed to be and not be, and how we should behave and not behave.

In Sweden, generous parental leave policies for mothers and fathers, and a quality daycare system for all have been successful tools for inclusion. Sweden has one of the highest per capita percentages of females in the workforce. 

Participation, however, is not leadership. The Nordic region still struggles in propelling women to the rank of CEO and low female representation on corporate boards, areas where the US and every country in the world lags behind too.

MEET NATALIA: Women could use a bit more bravado

When I first moved to Sweden, I thought that this was a mother’s paradise. I was dealing with a colicky toddler and a gnawing desire to express myself professionally, and Swedish “dagis” seemed like the panacea. Two and a half years later, I’ve realized there is no mother’s paradise. Not yet.

Challenges persist in Sweden as in San Francisco, or any U.S. city. The best way forward is to share and learn from each other. That’s why I decided to ask some successful Swedish and American women what their favourite thing about being a mother in their home country is, and what more needs to change.

 

Ebba von Sydow, Swedish journalist, editor, and author

Having my sister, and cookbook partner, Amy living in the US with three small kids, we talk a lot about the differences between Philadelphia and Stockholm – services and things we sometimes over here take for granted.

Of course our parental leave system, that allows me to pursue my career while having two kids aged three and one, but also our fantastic nursery schools, nice green public playgrounds in the city, free health care for all kids and free dental care.

 

Anna Serner, Swedish Film Institute CEO 

Best: cheap childcare and paternity leave. Worst: The long and dark period with wet and vile weather. Always too much planning and laundry!

 

Lisa Lindstrom, Doberman founder and CEO 

The best thing about being a mom in Sweden is that it is expected of me that my job is important. I’m so thankful to all the generations before me who has been fighting for equality and forced our society to form structures that allows woman to work on equal terms.

And it is my duty to continue this fight to our future generations, not only regarding equality but also diversity.

The worst thing of being a mom in Sweden is not that bad. But to mention one thing, it is that our successful mothers, the ones who made it possible for my generation to have a career while being a mom, still are super attractive to the market. I miss having more time with the kids’ grandmothers!

 

Andrea Engsall, interior designer, Swedish TV personality, author and blogger

Best – All the opportunities we have. From parental leave, maternity care to kindergarten and health care for the children. It is really when you become a parent you realize how great the social security system is.

Worst – the pressure of doing everything at the same time. Being a mother and trying to create a career at the same time can sometimes be challenging. But I think it’s not specifically a Swedish problem.”

READ BLOG ENTRY IN FULL:  A woman's paradise

 

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
International
Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale
A Danish site is selling the works that the Swedish state wants destroyed. Screenshot: www.entartetekunst.dk

Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale

Work by controversial jailed Swedish artist Dan Park is on sale online and could reach a gallery in Copenhagen, despite a previous exhibition being pulled. READ  

Lifestyle
Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old
Pensioners in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old

Sweden has dropped to second place in an annual index measuring the quality of life of elderly people in 96 countries around the world. READ  

National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
Andreas Fransson, left. Photo: Markus Alatalo

Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche

UPDATED: The bodies of two of the world's top skiers, Sweden's Andreas Fransson and JP Auclair from Canada, were found on Tuesday after they were reported missing in an avalanche in the Andes. READ  

Politics
Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs

UPDATED: The Social Democrats and the Greens have agreed to raise unemployment payments and promised to create more jobs in the construction industry, The Local has learned. READ  

National
Ikea recalls elk pasta
Two types of pasta are affected. Photo: IKEA

Ikea recalls elk pasta

Ikea has pulled two different types of elk-shaped pasta from its stores in Sweden. READ  

Presented by Regus
How to get your own great office in Stockholm
A woman using a Regus workspace. Photo: Regus

How to get your own great office in Stockholm

Stockholm's business climate is hotter than ever, which leaves start-ups and business travellers hunting high and low for flexible office space. The solution is easier than they think. READ  

National
King Carl XVI Gustaf opens parliament
King Carl XVI Gustaf arriving on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: TT

King Carl XVI Gustaf opens parliament

BREAKING: Sweden's post-election parliament is meeting for the first time following a fanfare opening from King Carl XVI Gustaf. READ  

Opinion
Should Sweden's school age be raised?
A high school in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Should Sweden's school age be raised?

After the new coalition announced plans to extend Sweden's compulsory schooling until the age of 18, The Local asked two Swedes at high school if they agreed with the idea. READ  

Brand stories
JohannaN: beautiful jewellery with a story

JohannaN: beautiful jewellery with a story

Just 27 and already living off of her own designs, some may consider Johanna Nilsson lucky. But she doesn't believe in luck. She's the founder of a jewellery line blending sustainability, subtle style, and Scandinavian simplicity - and it's taking the world by storm. READ  

International
Sweden slammed for ecological footprint
Sweden should increase its renewable energy according to WWF. Photo:TT

Sweden slammed for ecological footprint

Sweden is among the world's top ten polluters according to one of the largest scientific studies looking at the impact of humans on earth, produced by the WWF. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
Blog updates

28 September

Spoiled Doyle (Blogweiser) »

"What you gotta watch out for in Sweden is the good stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re_EzUe6xpI In Sweden, it’s the good things you have to watch out for. Video on @TheLocalSweden http://t.co/rAb8eGFdTD pic.twitter.com/w37YYwMXy1 — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 29, 2014 " READ »

 

26 September

 (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Autumn swept into Sweden at the start of this week with snow in the north of the country and flooding in the south. As well as a change in the weather, Sweden’s change in political direction became clearer, with Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven formally announcing his party would work with the Greens as..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

852
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN