Take care of the guys, even if its March 8!

Gender equality March 8 Aune PwCHelga Aune Manager in PwC. Photo: PwC

Take care of the guys women, even if its March 8!

– The ladies are on the rise while men are on their way down. Management is responsible for ensuring equality in the future, both for men and women, says Helga Aune,  lawyer and manager in PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).


March 8 is about part-time employment and equal pay, violence against women and the (in)famous glass ceiling. Good advice is thrown at women: let the men partake when it comes to buying of children clothes and making colour choices. The journalists and politicians have the subjects safely tucked away in their drawers and they are kept safely there until March of the next year.

Nobody talks about the solutions – and why it is so difficult to achieve gender equality in everyday life.

Through the #Metoo campaign, we see how difficult it is for an individual to stand up when the cultural influence is this strong. #Metoo has shown that when the general attitude has been that “you must endure that much, it’s a matter of committing harakiri career-wise. Women will then tolerate and shut up. #Metoo shocked. The few had believed that sexual harassment was such a major problem in the country of gender equality called Norway.

And what is the problem?

That management does not take responsibility for creating equal opportunities for girls and boys, for women and men. This applies to leaders both in education and in working life.

Equal opportunities are about changing the rules of the game.

Both sexes must have equal opportunities in education and in working life. Those who own the organization in the workplace must recognize the fly in their own ointment which prevents equal opportunities being implemented in real life.

The spanner in the machinery is the way in which working life is organized, in combination with gender role patterns and distribution of work at home.  In schools, there is a lack of gender equality perspective in the teaching.

Equality faces a crossroads.

Businesses today must show that they have an active policy regarding equal opportunities for women and men. Being modern and inclusive are important business success criteria. Management must identify what prevents equal opportunities.

Several women participate in the management of Norwegian companies to create credibility and to make better decisions. But here there are changes. For example, the big conglomerates have begun to demand that who they purchase services from, must have a team consisting of 50% from both genders. This way, owners take active steps to achieve gender equality.

In the future, the adept ladies will clear the path. Meanwhile the men are on their way down. Two axes are crossing.

Gender equality is about men as well

It is already difficult to find qualified men for certain types of positions. Young men have too poor grades from elementary school, junior high school and higher education to enter into Master degree programs.

Why are boys becoming losers in the schools?

The boys in high school do not have a better average grade than the girls in any subjects. The explanation for this is complex.

Research shows that due to gap in knowledge stemming from the kindergarten, the boys drop behind the girls in the junior high school and thereafter.

The individual boy or parent may say that it is the boy’s own fault because he did too little homework and was too unfocused. None of the boys will say that they have been discriminated against as an individual during their education. But when it affects that many and only involves one gender, it tells about gendered structures that provide results based on gender. And lack of equal opportunities.

The boys do not get the same opportunities as the girls

How equal opportunities for learning can be ensured in education need to have the focus. School and family must talk about how traditional gender roles are an obstacle. Perhaps the kindergarten pedagogy must spend more time practicing with the boys so they become as good as the girls to listen, concentrate and achieve improved language skills.

We think we are treating them the same – but when it’s filmed, or the stopwatch is used, it is revealed that girls and boys do not have equal opportunities.

What are the consequences of boys losing out at school?

We already see that a number of former male-dominated studies are close to being dominated 100% by women (medicine, dentistry, law amongst others). 70% of all pupils receiving special education are boys, the drop-out rate from upper secondary school is significantly greater for boys than for girls. The proportion of young people at the unemployment office (NAV) is also dominated by young men.

Those who fall outside working life become sicker, are left outside in social terms and excluded from the society at large. They also become pensioners with minimal payouts. In order to meet the challenges of the future, we need everybody to work.

Working life and education are flip sides of the coin

The point of talking about education and work “in the same breath” is that the workforce receives their workers through the educational system. The explanation for the lack of gender equality in education and working life is the same. Management does not have sufficient focus on the obstacles that hinders equal opportunity.

March 8 – And I’m still an optimist

With increased understanding of what equal opportunities are in practical terms, it is possible to make changes. Requirements must be provided for documentation of how the gender equality perspective is ensured in every day life.

Equal opportunities regardless of gender are so important that we can not let anyone’s perceptions that equality has come far enough to prevail. All students must be guaranteed their right to proper education. Everybody must be given equal opportunities in the workplace regardless of their gender.

Responsibility for equality lies not with the individual, it is the responsibility of the society. If the responsible persons succeed in this task, both sexes can become winners at the end of the day.


© PriceWaterhouseCoopers / #Norway Today