Finland - Gender

Guiding Questions

1. What have you learned about gender equality in Finland and how it plays out in education?

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Gender in Finland: An Overview

There is a high degree of equality between the sexes in Finland, as can be seen in the relatively high number of women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of society.

There are numerous women in academic posts, and in recent years visiting businessmen have also found increasing numbers of ‘the fairer sex’ on the other side of the negotiating table. The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland accepts the ordination of women, and there are women priests in numerous parishes. No woman has yet been elected a Bishop, though.

Chauvinistic or patronizing attitudes towards women are generally considered unacceptable, although such attitudes do persist in practice. Women do appreciate traditional courtesy, although ultimately they appraise men on the basis of their attitude towards equality. Women are usually independent financially and may offer to pay their share of a restaurant bill, for instance. A man may politely refuse such an offer, but it is equally polite to accept it.

In international contexts, or when using foreign languages, particularly English, Finns have become accustomed to politically correct language in which traditional masculine terms are replaced with gender-neutral ones (e.g. ‘chairperson’); or the third person singular pronoun is offered in both forms (he/she) when they exist. In Finnish the latter problem does not exist. Instead, the third person singular pronoun hän covers both genders. There are also many titles ending with the suffix –mies(man) that are not considered gender-specific. It is appropriate for visitors to follow the established practice of whatever language they are using.

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Articles & Essays

What Makes the Nordic Countries Gender Equality Winners?, Huffington Post

The Current Situation of Gender Equality in Finland – Country ProfileEuropean Commission

Gender Equality Policies in Finland, Finland Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Overview of Gender Equality Issues in Finland  Finnish Institute of Occupation Health,

A new Finnish lesson: Why gender equality matters in school reform by Valerie Strauss, "The Answer Sheet", The Washington Post

Finland/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates Compendium Cultural Policies in Europe

The Finnish Gender Equality Debate