How to dismantle the traditional division of duties between women and men?

30.9.2009 12.36
News item N5-55912

"In view of gender equality and equal pay it is important to find effective means to dismantle the division into women's and men's occupations and branches in education and working life," stated the chair of the monitoring group for the Equal Pay Programme Mr Pentti Arajärvi in his opening address at the seminar on dismantling segregation in Helsinki on 30 September 2009.

"Our working life is distinctly divided into women and men's occupations and branches.  In the division of labour within the branches women are usually placed in the lowest, assisting jobs in the hierarchy, while men have jobs of higher status, such as expert and management jobs. When comparing the intensity of occupational segregation in 27 EU states, Finland holds a leading position along with five other countries," Arajärvi said.

The seminar sought to find an answer e.g. to whether the pay gap can be reduced by alleviating segregation.

"As a rule, the low wage level slows down the dismantling of segregation. One could think that fair pay also serves as a carrot for young men when they consider for instance a career in the care field.  I see that a rapid and efficient remedy to achieve the objectives of the Equal Pay Programme regarding dismantling wage differentials and segregation - although this is a challenging task -would be a clear increase in the wages and salaries of the female-dominated branches," said Arajärvi.

State Secretary Marcus Rantala, who took part in the seminar panel, stated that it is important to identify the factors that steer the choice of education and the choice of profession at the beginning of the career and to try to impact on them. 

"This issue is not only the responsibility of female employees but the employers also bear a major responsibility in women's career development.  The measures undertaken in the field of education and working life have not been sufficient.  Added impetus should be given to these measures," State Secretary Rantala underlined.

"Appreciation of women's skills and improving their pay are factors that will contribute to reduced pay differentials in the short term," said Rantala.

The seminar on the Equal Pay Programme gathered together more than 200 stakeholders, representatives of the labour market organisations and education administration, and gender equality experts.  The seminar discussed the roles and chances of various actors to influence people's choices of education and profession.

The Government and the labour market central organisations introduced the Equal Pay Programme in 2006 with the main objective of bridging the gender pay gap to 15 per cent by 2015. 

More information

Outi Viitamaa-Tervonen, Project Coordinator, tel (09) 160 73170, 050 545 0259
Mari-Elina McAteer, Project Coordinator, tel. (09) 160 73289, 050 545 0271