Pinligt, Danmark! Kravl ned fra den høje hest, og stik i arbejdstøjet – kvinder og minoriteter skal op ad ligestillingsstigen

Danmark ligger på en 32.-plads, når det drejer sig om ligestilling, viser ny rapport.

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What an embarrassment, Denmark! It is time to crawl down from your high horse, and shift into work clothes – so women and minorities can climb up the equality ladder

Denmark is in 32nd place when it comes to gender equality, a new report shows.

” Denmark !?” is the reaction I am often met with when I tell people in the US where I am originally from. “Aren´t you the happiest country in the world with a high degree of gender equality?”

As Danes, we are taught to be proud of our country, our culture, our history, and our model of society. Maybe too proud.

A new report from the World Economic Forum, Gender Ecuality Gap 2022 , states that gender equality is overall declining. The report points out that it will take well over 100 years to achieve gender equality.

No country has full gender equality. But the countries in the top 10 are the ones we usually compare ourselves with – countries like Iceland, which top the list with 90%, Finland, Norway and Sweden, which all have a gender equality percentage of over 80%.

Although many Danes are quite proud when it comes to their country, they have to stop gloating about the degree of gender equality. Because the ranking for Denmark is embarrassingly bad. In fact, it has gone backwards, which is visibly marked by a small minus symbol on the right side of the column next to Denmark in the list of the country’s ranking.

Denmark is no longer a hippie-we-are-all-equal-because-we-burn-our-bras-are-and-our-men-knit-kids-hats-country. Denmark is not as equal as the Danes think. We lag far behind countries like Rwanda and Namibia. If Denmark wants to be in the same league as our Nordic neighbors, several parties must get off their high horse and pull on their work clothes.

This applies to men who do not want to give up their place in politics and business, it applies to men who are board members with an attitude about how a person on a board should look, act and speak. And it applies to women who have an expectation of themselves and their fellow sisters, when they let those with career ambitions feel like they are the worst mothers, if the home does not look like an Ikea catalog , the food is not made from scratch, the mother does not go to every school event, and tuck their kids in every night.

But equality also applies to minorities’ access to high positions in the labor market and in political life. And for those who have the skills but may not have the experience moving in the circles of the well read. People who didn´t grow up in a family with middle class dinner table discussions and therefore speaks a language that makes them seem like strange birds? These groups have a different perspective, different voices – and little duck pond Denmark needs that if the country is to survive in a more globalized world.

A few years ago I went to a panel discussion at the University of Washington in Seattle, where the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen, and Crown Princess Mary spoke. But the wisest words came from a female grad student. “Give up the chair you are sitting on,” she said. “Only in this way do women and minorities break the glass ceiling.”

Denmark is no longer a hippie-we-are-all-equal-for-we-burn-our-bra-are-and-our-men-knit-kids-hats-country.

Not unexpectedly, the report from the World Economic Forum has shocked the Danes. Today I listened to a podcast called “Debatten” on P1, where the result of Denmark’s ranking in the report was debated. Among the guests was the Danish Minister for Gender Equality, Trine Bramsen, who unfortunately was neither a particularly great communicator nor had a clear message when it came to propose suggestions on what can be done to get more women on the boards and give them the incentive and courage to be self-employed.

I was cursing out loud when I heard her say that one way to address the gender gap is to rethink corporate culture and where meetings are held between 5pm and 8pm, “during tugging-in time”.

Since when can ones partner, no matter how he or she is attached to the relationship, not tug the kiddo in? And since when is it implicitly the role of the mother? And if she’s single, then there’s probably a nanny who can do the bedtime story for one or two nights without the kid being long term harmed by it.

Maybe something is simply fundamentally and structurally wrong with the way we look at the role of a mother, when even Denmark’s Minister for Gender Equality uses words, it seems neither she nor the other guests in the radio studio find disturbing. Words that explicitly express a view of antiquated gender roles. Maybe her way of expressing herself was not a Freudian slip, maybe she was simply expressing a view that permeates the view of family life in large parts of Denmark – and which keeps women in a role of expectation that they have a hard time breaking free from, if they do not wish to be shamed as mothers?

Another reason why Denmark is ranked so incredibly bad in the new gender equality report may have something to do with the way the welfare state is set up. No matter what line of work you have as a Dane, you will be fine. An ordinary job will pay for a house, a car, several holidays, all the material goods you need- why work your butt off – and why stand out in an ambitious dream of reaching the top, when the whole Law of Jante socialization from preeschool through the entire education system teaches you not o stand out?

Of course, it’s perfectly ok to love that view on society – it just does not look good in a gender equality report. Therefore, Denmark must either accept that the price for their model of society comes with a disparity when it comes to exceptionalism and gender equality. Otherwise they have to do something about it and actively fight for equality and against the law of Jante where noone dares standing out for fear of being socially ostracized.

So next time an American asks me a question about happiness and gender equality in Denmark, I might answer: “Yes, Denmark ranks second among the happiest countries in the world – perhaps because we do not expect much. And in fact, the United States ranks higher on the Gender Equality Index than Denmark .”

One thought on “Pinligt, Danmark! Kravl ned fra den høje hest, og stik i arbejdstøjet – kvinder og minoriteter skal op ad ligestillingsstigen”

  1. I especially like the statement that Denmark is a happy country because “we don’t expect too much”. Perfect!
    Although I’ve never been to Denmark, your reflection on the hypocrisy of gender equality in Denmark reminds me of Portland, Oregon. Portland likes to come off as a diverse and equal city, but in reality is very white and nearsighted.

    Like

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