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Finland celebrates equality: Data reveals current gender realities

In honour of Minna Canth and Equality Day on 19 March, Yle has put together a list of figures that shed a light on contemporary gender issues in Finland.

Minna Canth n. 17-vuotiaana.
Writer Minna Canth is the eighth Finnish person of note – and the first woman – to be honoured with a flag day in Finland. Image: Kuopion kulttuurihistoriallinen museo

In honour of Minna Canth Day, Finland's annual effort to promote gender equality, Yle has compiled data from the state-run number cruncher Statistics Finland and other authorities on gender issues in Finland.

1. There are more women than men in the Finnish population

At the end of 2017, there were 5,513,000 people living in Finland, 2,794,000 of which were women and 2,719,000 of which were men. This means that women presently have a majority of about 80,000. Statistics Finland forecasts that by the year 2065, the situation will be reversed and there will be more men than women in the country.

2. Women live longer

In the early 1900s, life expectancy at birth in Finland was just over 40 years for both genders. These days, Finnish residents tend to live twice as long. According to figures from 2017, women's current life expectancy at birth is 84.2 years, while for men it is 78.7.

3. Women represent the majority of higher education students

Nowadays, 57.4 percent of students completing higher education at academic universities in Finland are women. Women are also the majority (52.8 percent) in universities of applied sciences, where students typically learn a trade.

Most students who choose to pursue tertiary education in the fields of social and health care, the humanities and the arts, the service sector, and business, administration and law are women.

There is no discernible gender imbalance among university students who study the natural sciences, agricultural and forestry. Things are different in the field of IT and telecommunications, however, as in 2016 over 92 percent of graduates in these fields were men.

4. Just two-thirds of women are in working life

In 2017 in Finland, just over two-thirds (68.5 percent) of women between the ages of 15 and 64 were classified as employed, compared to 70.7 percent of men. Unemployment figures for the same year showed that 8.4 percent of eligible working-age women were without work, compared to 8.9 percent of men.

5. Female bosses are rare, and they tend to lead other women

Even though the number of women who have attained leadership positions in Finland has grown steadily for decades, those companies in which women are in supervisory positions still tend to have more women as employees.

The last time statistics were compiled on this in 2013, only one in ten men reported working for a female supervisor in Finland. All in all, 65 percent of people reporting that they had a woman supervisor were women themselves.

After the 2015 election, 41.5 percent of the newly-elected MPs in the 200-member Finnish Parliament were women, while 58.5 percent were men. An Inter-Parliamentary Union assessment from the start of this year places Finland at number 12 on a worldwide comparison of women in national parliaments.

6. Men earn 600 euros more monthly, on average

There are still clear gender differences in Finland when it comes to wages. In 2017 Statistics Finland determined that for every euro earned as wages by men, women were paid 84 cents. In 2016 women received an average of 3,075 euros per month, while men got an average of 3,675 euros for a month's work.

Women also reported doing 3 hours and 41 minutes of daily housework in 2010, while men reported doing 2 hours and 33 minutes.

The most recent gender equality barometer conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health suggested that two-thirds of women believe that men in Finland are in a more privileged position in society compared to women. Half of Finnish men also felt this way. The survey of attitudes on gender suggests that only one-fifth of women and less than half of men believe there is gender equality in Finland.

Data used in this list was compiled from Statistics Finland, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL).

Every year since 2007 on 19 March, Finland has celebrated Minna Canth Day, also called the Day of Equality. Canth was an influential Finnish author and social thinker that lived in the late 19th century. She was also a strong campaigner for gender equality.

EDIT 19.3.2019 An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that life expectancy in Finland was just over 40 for both genders in the early 1990s.

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