The United States Are More Feminist Than Norway

Why Feminist Play a Very Important Role for the Economy

It might sound surprising but there are more women managers in the United States than in Norway, there are also less over or under-representation of women in the different sectors of the economy[1]. The family-work conciliation welfare policies of the Scandinavian country actually have a negative impact on women economic advancement.

The Power

In any economic organisation, there are positions of authority and decision-making and positions of subordination and execution. It happens that in virtually every national economy, there is a clear pattern of more men at the top than women, but less in the US[2]. This recurrent asymmetry has consequences on differentials in earning, which in turns leads to different economic status and opportunities for men and women and, globally has a negative effect on economic growth and competitiveness. Indeed, if the potential of certain human resources – women and men – are unexploited, the economy is not evolving at the pace it should.

The Policies

The “family-work” conciliation policies such as part-time arrangements and long parental leaves are actually harmful for women as they are not applied to the same extent to men. This causes employers not to promote female capital because of the costs engendered by their absences[3]. This lack of promotion leads to less women in managerial positions and under-representation of women in certain industries.

ANSWER: Men should be involved as much as women in family matters – childrearing, homework – and parental leaves and part-time settings should be open to them as well. It is not fair to have long maternity leave for women when men barely have a few days.

The Culture

There is a cultural consensus determining which are the appropriate jobs for each sex.

National feminist movements have an impact on the shaping of those societal norms. The ideologies promoted by the late 19th century Norwegian feminist movements have particularly emphasized traditional gender differences, in particular the idea that women should stay at home and care for the children; Norwegian social policies are based on assumptions of a “domestic mother” as the norm [4]. That’s why debates about child care in Norway around the 1970-80s were directed towards the needs of the child, rather than the working mother’s[5]. Moreover, caring is considered as “work” in Norway. Finally, Norwegian are less ‘progressive’ in terms of gender roles when they think women’s employment has a negative impact on family life. 41% of male respondents and 24% of female respondents “disagree” to the statement: “A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work”[6].

In the United States, things are different. American feminism is more aggressive and ready to conquer male-dominated fields. Women’s movements hold liberal views and focus on issues of rights, opportunities and anti-discrimination[7], rather than on motherhood or family concerns. Women’s movements in the United States are actively dedicated in eliminating ascriptive barriers to individual achievement at the workplace, they primarily seek to enforce anti-discrimination and affirmative action legislation and promote women’s career advancement[8]. Furthermore, American professional groups are particularly well established across economic sectors and are therefore able to actively influence gender norms through networking and raising awareness. This is not the case of Norwegian feminism which expresses itself mainly within national parties and not at the workplace per se.

“Organisations pushing for diversity have to be heard, promoted and taken seriously in order to make economic actors adjust effectively to a fast-moving global economy where developing the full potential of its human capital is absolutely necessary.”

Conclusion: Feminists Can Help The Economic Actors Adjust

In order to have an economy offering the same opportunities for everyone, the role of organizations pushing for gender equality is crucial. They have to be heard, promoted and taken seriously in order to make economic actors adjust effectively to a fast-moving global economy where developing the full potential of its human capital is absolutely necessary.

 

[1] American women represent 51.5% of managers in 2015 and Norwegian 20% in 2010, statistics extracted from the US Department of State and the European Commission.

[2] Périvier, Hélène (2009). Les Femmes Sur le Marché du Travail aux Etats-Unis. Evolutions Mises en Perspective avec Celles de la France et de la Suède. Presses de Sciences Po, Revue de l’OFCE. Paris.

http://www.cairn.info/revue-de-l-ofce-2009-1-page-49.htm

[3] Estévez-Abe, Margarita (2006). “Gendering the Varieties of Capitalism: A Study of Occupational Segregation by Sex in Advanced Industrial Societies”. World Politics. Vol. 59, pp.153

[4] Sainsubury, Diane (2001). “Gender and the Making of Welfare States: Norway and Sweden”. Social Politics. Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.113-143.

[5] Crampton, Rosemary and Harris, Fiona (1997). “Women’s Employment and Gender Attitudes: A Comparative Analysis of Britain, Norway and the Czech Republic”. Acta Sociologica. Vol. 40, No.2,p. 194

[6] Crampton, Rosemary and Harris, Fiona (1997). “Women’s Employment and Gender Attitudes: A Comparative Analysis of Britain, Norway and the Czech Republic”. Acta Sociologica. Vol. 40, No.2,p. 195

[7] Wright, Erik, Olin, Baxter Janeen and Birkelund Gunn Elisabeth (1995). “The Gender Gap in Workplace Authority: A Cross-National Study”. American Sociological Review. Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 414.

[8] Gelb, Joyce (1987). “Social Movement “Success”: A Comparative Analysis of Feminism in the United States and the United Kingdom.” In Katzenstein, Mary Fainsod and Mueller, Carol McClurg (1987). The Women’s Movements of the United States and Western Europe. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, pp.281.

 

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