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Women still earn less than men

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12:41 CEST+02:00
There is still a wage discrepancy between women and men of the same age and with comparable educations, working hours and lines of business. Women earn 92 per cent of the wage taken home by their male counterparts, according to Statistics Sweden.

The gender-related wage difference has effectively remained unchanged since 1992, when comparable figures were first published.

Liberal Party MP Birgitta Ohlsson said much of this was down to discrimination:

"This is still a gender-biased society where women's work is not valued as highly as men's," she told The Local.

In 2005, women earned an average of 22,100 kronor per month, compared with 26,500 kronor for men. Statistics Sweden's figures, which have not been adjusted for factors such as age and education, show women earning the equivalent of 84 percent of men's wages.

The difference between men's and women's wages increases with age. Women born in the 1980s earn 94 per cent as much as men, whereas the equivalent amount for women born in the 1940s is 81 per cent.

Birgitta Ohlsson says it doesn't feel like things are getting better:

"When I talk to my friends abut this, a lot them feel it is getting worse, particularly the ones who are well-educated and have maybe worked abroad," she says.

"It's possible that employers look more at the individual in some foreign countries and it can be harder to get a top position in Sweden. On the other hand, it is easier to combine a family with a career here."

Among the ten best paid professions, such as pilots and stock brokers, 26 per cent of employees are women. At the other end of the scale, 77 per cent of those in the worst paid jobs, such as kitchen staff and childcare workers, are women.

Ohlsson says Sweden can learn from its Nordic neighbours:

"We have looked at the Finnish model of tax relief for domestic services and found that it works well. Socialist feminists have opposed it very strongly but we see that it has created work, not just for women but also young people and students.

"That is not enough, though. I think we need to split the current elite more. One way the new government plans to do this is to introduce an equality bonus for families that split parental leave equally between both parents.

"I have also been keeping an eye on the Icelandic model, whereby leave is divided into three thirds of equal length. Parents take a third each, while they can divide the final third however they prefer. Iceland is traditionally quite a macho society and I just think if it can work there, then why not in Sweden?"

Paul O'Mahony

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