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Open up society

quences that affect equality between men and women. As an example: Knowledge that women take the greatest part of parental leave leaves a young woman without children at a disadvantage in competition for a job because an employer may think that “here is a woman with the right qualifications, but within the next 4-5 years she will certainly like to have a family, which means that for a long time she will be absent from the workplace.” The employer is not interested in this absence and instead hires a young man. While the young man may also dream of a family, the employer does not expect him to take much paternity leave, if any at all. In addition SOCIAL STUDIES AND GENDER EQUALITY 15 to the worse competitive situation caused by the distribution of parental leave, the uneven distribution means that women lose significant income and pension savings even if Denmark has one of the world’s highest parental benefits. As we will see in the section on equality and politics, politicians and others have extensive discussions on whether to pass a law saying that the parental leave should be evenly distributed between the mother and father. When we look at the various social relationships between women and men, a rather clear social pattern called the pattern of gender roles emerges. However, this pattern is not a natural law. There is no need for differences between women and men in terms of laundry, cleaning or small repairs. There are many single fathers in Denmark – and many women administer hammers and electric screwdrivers in their home. The pattern of gender roles is about social – and not natural – differences between men and women. That the differences are social means that they are about how we plan and live our lives in social groups, for example, in the world, at school and at work. The pattern of gender roles, however, is not only an expression of the fact that women and men behave differently and are perceived differently in society. As we can see in the economic and sociological material above, men and women are statistically valued differently in the labour market in terms of income and retirement. And when the children are sick, more often mummy than daddy stays at home to look after the child. Like other social patterns, however, the pattern of gender roles is not stationary. The norms, traditions and living conditions that our grandparents grew up with Among other factors, the division of labour between men and women is the result of society's gender norms. Norms that assign different roles to us right from childhood.


Open up society
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