The participation of women on the Norwegian workforce has never been greater – globally speaking, Norwegian women are at the top of the list. According to the 2004 figures, 75 per cent of all women aged 25-66 are on the workforce, while the percentage for men is 82. Participation of women with small children is also very high. Seventy-two per cent of women with children under the age of three are employed, while the figure for women with children aged 3-6 is 82 per cent.
Norwegian family and gender equality policy has been aimed at enabling women and men alike to participate in family and working life. Particularly important in this context are systems for publicly financed day-care institutions and parental leave (including the paternity quota) of 53 weeks at 80 per cent salary compensation, or 43 weeks at 100 per cent salary compensation. This is supplemented by schemes for flexible working hours.
The number of men and women pursuing higher education today is roughly equal. With regard to educational programmes, most people still make traditional choices. Women tend to choose educations in teaching and care services, while men choose science and technology subjects. Three of five students at universities and university colleges are women.
Forty-three per cent of women aged 16-74 work part-time, as opposed to only 13 per cent of men. The average number of hours of paid work per week is 30.6 hours for women compared to 37.2 hours for men (2004). Norway has a gender pay gap of 15 per cent. However, much of this may be explained by the fact that women and men work in different fields and sectors, and that women tend to work in part-time jobs.
Women comprise 68 per cent of all employees in the public sector. Much of this comes from the municipal sector, where 78 per cent of the employees are women. Women also make up a majority of the employees in the government sector, where they comprise 57 per cent. In the private sector, men make up the vast majority (2004).
Women dominate among pre-school teachers, nurses and other caregivers as well as cleaning personnel, constituting over 90 per cent of the workforce in these fields. While engineering has been and continues to be a male bastion, women now comprise 34 per cent of all doctors and 26 per cent of all lawyers.
In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to introduce legislation stipulating balanced gender representation on company boards. This legislation applies to state-owned companies as well as public limited companies in the private sector, and entered into force on 1 January 2004 for the former and 1 January 2006 for the latter. Women’s representation on the boards of state-owned companies has exceeded 40 per cent for several years, but is at 18 per cent far lower for the public limited companies (2006). For more information on balanced gender representation on company boards, visit the website of the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality
The general lack of women in top managerial positions in the private, government and municipal sectors continues to be a matter of national concern. In 2005, the percentages were 22, 23 and 23 per cent, respectively. Women comprise only 27 per cent of the middle-level managers in private companies (2005). Corresponding figures for the public sector are not available.