Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study

Men with foreign-sounding names face significantly worse discrimination when applying for jobs in Sweden than their female counterparts, according to a new study from Stockholm University.

A woman faces a man in a suit in an office situation
In Sweden, women with foreign-sounding names face less discrimination than the men. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/

The study analysed the response rates to 5,641 job applications sent out by researchers for various studies between 2014 and 2020.

It found that men with foreign-sounding names were only called back after 27 percent of applications, while women with foreign-sounding names were called back after 32 percent of applications.

“What we saw was that recruiters favoured female applicants with foreign-sounding names ahead of male applicants with foreign-sounding names, and that this happened above all in professions which require a higher level of education,” said Anni Erlandsson, the post-doctoral researcher at the university who carried out the study. 

Applications purporting to be from men and women with Swedish-sounding names, in comparison, had a response rate of 44.3 percent and 43.7 percent respectively. This means men with foreign-sounding names could face a 17 percentage point disadvantage from the moment they send in their CVs.

“One of my main findings is that we do not find any evidence of gender discrimination in Sweden, and we find no discrimination among parents, between mothers or fathers,” Erlandsson told The Local. “This suggests that the ideas about gender inequality in the labour market might not be driven by gender discrimination, at least not at this stage of the recruitment process.

“But at the same time, ethnic discrimination [during recruitment] does seem to be one of the sources of ethnic inequality in the labour market.”

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Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 


More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.”