A blog post

Norway’s gender in/equality – working life 2014

Posted on the 11 November, 2014 at 6:40 pm Written by in Books

In a text published October 29 in the newspaper Dagbladet, I argue that the plan of the conservative government to shorten the father quota and make it transferable to the mother is not a wise policy. Fathers’ rights are taken away, in the name of free choice, without testing if the situation is right. All participants in the debate say they want active care-giving parents, yet free, gender-balanced choice takes time to settle, and gender segregated norms and traditions are still strong in Norway. I predicted that taking away the father quota would lead to more difficult negotiations for couples with babies, both at home and at the workplace. See:


Now, a new survey of leaders (N=1003) and one of employees (N=1515) indicate that I am right, at least regarding working life.

The survey report shows continuing gender segregation and care discrimination in Norwegian working life. The situation of recruits and employees who have to care for a baby is very much a contested terrain – even in relatively gender-equal Norway, 2014.

A conflict has built up around pregnant mothers, especially, but fathers meet negative judgments too. 60 percent of female employees have been on sick leave when they were pregnant, and among younger female employees the proportion is 80 percent. As a kind of “response”, 1 of 2 leaders thinks that it is too easy to go on sick leave when pregnant. Many also report that job recruits are not honest, regarding children and parental leave plans.

However, 1 of 3 workplaces does not adjust the job for the pregnant woman, according to the employee survey. 1 of 2 male leaders is willing to break the law, agreeing with the statement that “It is OK to ask if a job candidate plans family increase” [plans getting a child]. Twice as many male leaders, compared to female leaders, agree to this statement. Likewise, 1 of 2 leaders “understands” that companies are reluctant to employ pregnant women.

Even among the employees, 1 of 2 agree that mothers of small children have a lower work capacity, and many also agree that the same goes for fathers of small children. This lower work capacity view is more frequent among men than women, and the gender gap is especially notable regarding fathers (52 percent of men and 39 percent of women agree with the lower capacity view).

The results indicate that gender equal caring arrangements meet opposition not just from leaders but from many colleagues as well, especially men.


Øystein Gullvåg Holter: Fedrekvoten i Warszawa [The father quota in Warszawa], Dagbladet October 29, 2014, cf.


Stein Andrè Haugerud: PAMA Proffice ArbeidsMarkedsAnalyse, Sandnes, November 3, 2014, cf.