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136 Int'l Lab. Rev. 341 (1997)
Occupational Segregation by Sex in Nordic Countries: An Empirical Investigation

handle is hein.journals/intlr136 and id is 351 raw text is: International Labour Review, Vol. 136 (1997), No. 3 (Autumn)

Occupational segregation by sex
in Nordic countries:
An empirical investigation
Helina MELKAS * and Richard ANKER **
7hee Nordic countries are widely known for their commitment to gender
Iequity and their policies for women's integration into nearly all spheres of
public life. It is therefore hardly surprising that the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) has ranked them at the very top in its recent measure of
women's status, the gender-related development index (GDI) (UNDP, 1995).
Women in those countries have indeed entered the labour market in strength in
recent decades, so that there are now roughly equal numbers of men and women
workers in the labour force. Furthermore, the gap between male and female
earnings in the Nordic countries is smaller than in other countries, and laws
have been adopted on equal pay for equal work.
However, there remains considerable gender inequality in the Nordic
labour markets. Women are under-represented at higher levels, especially in
the private sector. In the three Nordic countries examined here (Finland, Norway
and Sweden), women work part-time much more than do men, partly because
women still perform about two-thirds of all unpaid work at home. Although
relatively high, women's earnings are significantly lower than men's; and in
any given type of occupation, women usually have lower positions than men.
Women are also more likely than are men to work in the public sector, where
wages tend to be lower than in the private sector.
Finland, Norway and Sweden provide a unique opportunity to study
occupational segregation by sex and labour market inequality between men and
women in the Nordic countries.' First, they have detailed census data over time
for over 200 occupations. This is important because the observed level of
occupational segregation by sex is known to be sensitive to the level of
*At the time of writing, researcher at the ILO; presently Ministry of Labour,
Finland. ** ILO, Geneva. This article is drawn from a larger study of occupational segregation
and labour market differentials in the Nordic countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden by the
same authors.
'The remaining Nordic countries, Denmark and Iceland, are not included in this analysis,
but should be considered in future research. Since the Nordic societies are relatively homogenous,
one may argue that differences between the statuses of women and men can be more clearly
distinguished than in other western societies with sharp contrasts between social classes (Taylor-
Gooby, 1991).
Copyright © International Labour Organization 1997

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