• Sweden's news in English
 

'I thought Sweden was paradise for mothers'

Published: 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
UN council seat focus of Löfven’s US trip
Photo: AFP

UN council seat focus of Löfven’s US trip

Sweden’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council will dominate Stefan Löfven’s trip to New York and Washington, DC. While in the US, he will also meet Vice-President Joe Biden. READ  

New trial to start in 8-year-old’s death
Photo: TT

New trial to start in 8-year-old’s death

An appeal gets underway on Monday in the case of 8-year-old Yara Alnajjar, a girl from Gaza who was beaten to death in Sweden last year. A female guardian was charged with murder while the girl’s uncle received a lesser sentence. READ  

Pub shooters wore skull masks and police vests
Photo: TT

Pub shooters wore skull masks and police vests

The two men who opened fire at a Gothenburg pub on March 18 were wearing skull masks and police vests, surveillance cameras footage reveals. Two people were killed and eight injured in the incident. READ  

PM brings up death penalty on China trip
Photo: TT

PM brings up death penalty on China trip

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven broached sensitive subjects such as the death penalty and human right in a Saturday meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping. READ  

Saudi ambassador to return to Stockholm
Photo: TT

Saudi ambassador to return to Stockholm

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Sweden will soon return to Stockholm after a diplomatic spat, Swedish officials said Saturday. But an envoy sent to Riyadh stopped short of offering the Saudis an apology. READ  

Swedish MPs meet Snowden in Moscow
Photo: TT/Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Swedish MPs meet Snowden in Moscow

Three Swedish parliamentarians met with fugitive US intelligence agent Edward Snowden at a secret location in Moscow on Friday to discuss mass surveillance. READ  

Spring budget
Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way
Social Democrat Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and her Green Party deputy Per Bolund at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT.

Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way

Sweden's left-wing government proposed a hike in petrol taxes on Friday, citing the drop in oil prices and pressure put on it by its coalition partner the Greens. READ  

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged  83
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged 83

UPDATED: Swedish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Tomas Tranströmer has passed away at the age of 83, his publishers confirmed on Friday. READ  

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson before his sick leave. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'

Jimmie Åkesson, who is poised to return as leader of Sweden's nationalist party in April after months of sick leave, has revealed he is taking antidepressants for exhaustion and sleeping difficulties in an interview set to air late on Friday. READ  

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?
Pia Sundhage, left, celebrating after Sweden beats Scotland in the World Cup qualifier. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?

Swedish football coach Pia Sundhage's contract leading the women's national team runs out next year. And she has not yet made up her mind as to whether or not she wants to stay on. “If they asked me today, I would say no,” she told The Local on Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Blog updates

27 March

Celebrating Three Great English Exports In 2015 (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Deputy Head of Mission Aidan Liddle joins us for another guest blog today. In 2015, England..." READ »

 

27 March

Editor’s blog, March 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Europe remains in shock following the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps that killed 150..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
National
Stray dog Arthur moves in with Swedish owners
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Sweden triples maximum limit at asylum centres
Gallery
People-watching: March 21st
National
Why elderly Swedes are among the world's happiest people
National
TIMELINE: Gothenburg shootings
National
Can Sweden's feminist party score success in neighbouring Norway?
National
Why Brits can't get enough of Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's solar eclipse
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Royal wedding countdown begins
National
Viking ring reveals Islamic ties
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: March 18th
National
One in three Russian diplomats are spies, says Sweden's Security Service
National
Hitchcock opera set to hit Gothenburg stage
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Northern Lights on show across Sweden
Technology
Why Swedish pop star Robyn is pushing for more girls in tech
Gallery
Property of the week: Umeå
National
Introducing Sweden's Eurovision 2015 entry Måns Zelmerlöw
Gallery
People-watching: March 13th - 15th
National
Why have Swedish prosecutors made a U-turn in Julian Assange case?
Sponsored Article
How Sweden and India can work together
Politics
Who's the new young leader of the Christian Democrats?
Travel
Why are Swedes so obsessed with Mallorca?
Gallery
Princess Estelle celebrates her mother's name day in Stockholm
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Obama's anti-Semitism team heads to Stockholm and Malmö
Gallery
People-watching: March 11th
Technology
How a Swedish app is teaching children to empathize
Swedish grandparents put on disguises to snatch baby
National
Why Sweden may not be as gender equal as you think
Politics
Why does Russia blame Sweden for the crisis in Ukraine?
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen
National
Listen to the English remix of a Swedish 'genitals' song gone viral
Technology
'Swedish women are strong and ambitious'
National
Why are 11 Roma people suing the Swedish state?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

3,451
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se