Women “don’t face wage discrimination”

Swedish companies do not systematically discriminate against women when setting wage levels, according to a new survey by Svenskt Näringsliv, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

The difference between men and women’s pay was generally explained by factors such as age, job, education and choice of company rather than by any automatic discrimination by employers, Svenskt Näringsliv argued.

Svenskt Näringsliv’s report is based on a poll of its member companies, which together employ 1.6 million people in Sweden, or 70 percent of those working in the private sector.

The overall average wage difference between men and women was 4.8 percent. This contrasts with the assertion made frequently in the Swedish debate that men are paid 15-20 percent more than women.

But the Feminist Initiative’s Anna Jutterdal said that while she was encouraged to hear that the wage differential might not be as high as previously thought, a difference of nearly five percent “is still too high”.

Håkan Eriksson, spokesman on equality issues at Svenskt Näringsliv, did not rule out that wage discrimination occurred among his organisation’s member companies, but said that the figures showed that it was not the norm.

“The difference in wages reduces even more when factors such as the difficulty of the job and the number of years served in the company are taken into account”, he said.

The organisation also argued that the fact that more women are studying at university, and that more of them are choosing subjects that are attractive to industry, means that the gap could narrow in the coming years.

The report provided some support for the claim that jobs favoured by women tended to be less well paid.

Of 25 low-paid job categories, paying between 15,500 and 18,000 kronor a month, 13 were dominated by women, and only four by men.

But Anna Jutterdal pointed out that the figures only cover the private sector, and not the public sector, where many women are employed.

Female-dominated jobs in the public sector were often less well paid, she argued.

“Many male-dominated professions that require similar levels of education to other female-dominated professions are often better paid,” she told The Local.

“And while men and women have a free choice as to which profession they choose, they are also influenced by gender roles.”

Front page photo: Per Magnus Persson/

Copyright: Johnér Bildbyrå / Source: imagebank.sweden.se