• 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

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
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
A festive parade involving Zwarte Piet helpers in the Netherlands. Photo: TT

'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden

A Dutch club in Stockholm that was planning a festive party featuring Santa alongside a servant with a black painted face has shelved the idea following numerous complaints of racism. READ  

Islamic State
'Isis' teens stopped at Sweden's Umeå airport
Umeå airport. Photo: scaplan1/Flickr

'Isis' teens stopped at Sweden's Umeå airport

Three high school students who were on their way to Syria to fight alongside the Isis (Islamic State) terror group were stopped at an airport in northern Sweden in the nick of time, it has been claimed. READ  

Swedish Honeymoon Killing
Honeymoon suspect seeks instant aquittal
Murder suspect Shrien Dewani. Photo: TT

Honeymoon suspect seeks instant aquittal

A British millionaire businessman, Shrien Dewani, has argued that he should be cleared of the honeymoon murder of his bride because South African prosecutors have failed to prove their case. READ  

Snow forecast for north as capital enjoys sun
Stockholmers enjoying the November weekend sun. Photo: The Local

Snow forecast for north as capital enjoys sun

The Swedish Meteorological Institute has issued a class one warning following snowstorms in northern Sweden, but there is better news for Stockholmers who enjoyed sunshine over the weekend and can expect more good weather towards the end of this week. READ  

Preschool burned down in southern Stockholm
The preschool in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Preschool burned down in southern Stockholm

A fire has destroyed a preschool in southern Stockholm overnight, with firefighters unable to contain the flames because of heavy winds. READ  

Ebola crisis
Swedish expert says Ebola risk has reduced
Many in Liberia have little but chlorine to protect themselves from Ebola. Photo:TT

Swedish expert says Ebola risk has reduced

A leading Swedish expert on global health has said that the threat of the Ebola virus has decreased and suggested that the battle against the epidemic is entering a new phase. READ  

Presented by Regus
Get your own office anywhere in the world

Get your own office anywhere in the world

Sweden’s startup scene is booming – making central office space in Stockholm and Gothenburg even harder to find. So where does a new small business set up shop? Two seasoned entrepreneurs share their secret with The Local. READ  

Submarine hunt
Three in four Swedes believe submarine 'proof'
An enlarged look at the mystery sighting of a suspected submarine in the Stockholm archipelago in October. Photo: TT

Three in four Swedes believe submarine 'proof'

A new survey has revealed that 75 percent of Swedes trust that the Swedish military did find enough evidence to prove that a foreign submarine was present in the Stockholm archipelago last month. The results contrast with a more sceptical public during previous submarine incidents in the 1980s. READ  

Thirty Swedes in Turkish resort bus crash
A resort in Antalya, close to where the crash happened. Photo: Shutterstock

Thirty Swedes in Turkish resort bus crash

Up to thirty Swedish tourists were caught up in an accident involving two buses near the resort of Antalya in Turkey on Sunday afternoon, with ten taken to hospital after the crash. READ  

My Swedish Career
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
Carolynn Piittisjärvi (right) together with business partner Eva Dejmo in their pop up store. Photo: Private

'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'

For this week’s My Swedish Career we meet American Carolynn Piittisjärvi, an entrepreneur who has already managed to turn several hobbies into Swedish businesses. She has just launched a store selling Japanese clothes, toys and stationary in the hope of spreading ‘kawaii’. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Blog updates

24 November

Seeing into the Future of Business: Interview with Antonia Ax:son Johnson (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"Nobody can change the world more than businesses can. This is Antonia Ax:son Johnson’s mantra and..." READ »

 

21 November

Editor’s Blog, November 21st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello from Stockholm, Our week started with reports another Russian plane had been spotted in Sweden’s airspace,..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
National
Meet the Irish woman thundering into Swedish rock
Gallery
In Pictures: Ace of Base through the years
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
Gallery
People-watching: November 12th
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
Opinion: 'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'
Business & Money
Price hike for new mortgages in Sweden
National
Toy store catalogues 'too white' in Sweden
National
Pirate Bay co-founder released from prison
National
Southern Sweden had 201 days of summer
Gallery
Sweden's ten most powerful people
Gallery
Property of the week: Mariestad
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
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

826
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
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:
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply