In the middle of the 80’s, I thought we were on our way. I was wrong.
Women are still often dropped just for being women, especially in managerial positions. I have consistently favored men to women during my career as a recruiter. A man will not become pregnant and will not nurse children. Women with children are already doing a full-time job. Therefore, they often are excluded in the race for top positions in a company. It is too expensive to appoint an “unreliable” manager who may not be there every day.
That is what it sounded like in “my” business world in Scandinavia until I had done some rethinking and began working towards equal opportunities. I do not even dare to think of how many women I have participated in stopping during 25 years as a consultant within recruiting and executive search. Nothing of the above was said openly, of course, but behind closed doors. And sadly, it is still not unusual.
However, there are movements against sexism—especially among men who will not tolerate this way of thinking and women who dare to report the worst assaults. We are moving slowly forward but we will only get there when competence will be more important than gender.
A Problem That Must Be Solved
A major problem that needs to be solved is the difference in wages between women and men at the same level/position in a company. After all, you are valued as a person by your salary, and by your bonuses or your stock options (though very few of us have any bonuses!) In the end, the monthly pay check is what counts—it shows how much you are worth as a human being and how you are valued by your employer. The problem in Scandinavia is that, even if a woman and a man have the same education, the same number of years within the industry, the same age and more or less have the same experience as managers, the woman will get a lower salary. (I’m talking about same salary for the same type of job, and no, its not
People who work with children are less valued than those who work within finance, drugs and weapons. Why? Working with children has never had a high status. And in general, men are not interested in working/being with children—including their own. What men say about quality time (with their kids) as opposed to quantity of time is sheer nonsense. Men don’t prefer to spend time with children mainly due to environmental influence. They see it as a low income job.
In the middle of the 80’s, I thought we were on our way. Books about femininity and masculinity were written and the subject was often an issue in seminars in Sweden. Most managers were men, of course, and it became fashionable to talk about the androgenic manager—a man who uses his feminine side in order to gain what is called “social competence.” And we talked a lot about salaries. A lot. But nothing, really, came out of these discussions; the “androgenic” man disappeared and the salary gap continued to grow.
Are We Afraid Regarding What Women Will Do?
So what happens when women earn more money and can dictate their own lifestyle?
The benefits are obvious. They will experience advantages that we men always have experienced, at least in Scandinavia. Things like: Less diapers, more golf, a glass of wine with friends in a cosy restaurant, watching handsome guys by the bar, or going to a basketball match.
One thing is obvious. If we men are going to share more of the responsibility for the contents of our lives, women will start to take their share of the apple and we men will initially feel like losers. But trust me: men can only
grow as human beings with that experience.
All women won’t be winners. Some are always losers—someone has to take care of the children and someone has to take care of the household. But if I have understood things right, in Scandinavia this someone will be a female immigrant.