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Why women in Sweden will work for free by November

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Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT
08:40 CEST+02:00
From the fifth of November women in Sweden will effectively be working for free, according to a study into the gender pay gap carried out by British tech website Expert Market.

Their research used EU data as well as a selection of European studies to gauge the inequality in pay between women and men across Europe.

By taking the average earnings of women in each country as a percentage of men's, the date that women start working for free in relative terms was calculated.

In purportedly gender-equal Sweden, that date is November 5th. Significantly short of the best performing nation, Slovenia, where December 18th was the cut-off.

Far from being a beacon of gender equality, Sweden is distinctly average according to the research, with women in the country said to be earning 15.2 percent less than men – just short of the EU-wide average of 17 percent.

The lowest gender pay gap in Scandinavia was found in Norway with 7.10 percent.

A lead researcher at Expert Market explained that part time work could explain Sweden trailing its Nordic neighbour.

"Scandinavian Europe is often praised for its progressive attitudes towards women but our research shows there are big disparities between Sweden and countries like Norway," Michael Horrocks told The Local.

"One of the key factors seems to be the higher than average number of women working part time – one third of Swedish women are employed part time versus one in ten men."

He emphasized that Sweden is still far from the worst in Europe in the area:

"Though Sweden did not place amongst the best countries, it's important to note that their gender pay gap is still less than the European average of 17%, positioning them more favourably than key economies like Switzerland and the UK."

In September, Sweden launched a new government agency dedicated to achieving a gender equal society, with unequal pay one of the concerns it is tasked with addressing.

Last year a YouGov poll ranked Swedes as the most keen in the world on gender equality. But thinking and doing are two different things, it seems. 

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