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Monday's papers: Few women in STEM, Swedish fading, and medical marijuana's uphill battle

Finland's equality paradox, the slow disappearance of Swedish, and the state's reluctance to support medical marijuana treatment.

Tiedeleiriläisiä pöydän äärellä.
Image: Tenho Tornberg / Yle

Equality paradox

The more equal opportunities women have, the more they differ from men in their preferences, reports national daily Helsingin Sanomat, citing an international study in the journal Science that examined 80,000 people in 76 countries.

Girls and women are generally free to pursue their desired professions in societies that enjoy more relative equality, and are often encouraged to break gender stereotypes. But data show that the Nordic states—considered to be the most equitable societies in the world—are home to fewer women engineers than many less equitable states.

Only a fifth of women in Finland, Norway and Sweden hold science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees, trailing behind Albania, Indonesia and Turkey. In Algeria, women account for 40 percent of STEM graduates. With girls’ reading comprehension outperforming boys on the PISA international student assessment, young women may be inclined to tap into their strengths to pursue humanities careers, pulling them away from science, said Finnish experts.

No smorgasbord

To attract employees fluent in languages other than Finnish, retailers in Finland have traditionally paid language bonuses on top of hourly wages. But this practice was rolled back earlier this year, drilling one more nail in the coffin when it comes to the future of the Swedish language in Finland, reports Hufvudstadsbladet.

In April, language bonuses paid on top of hourly wages were cut to three percent from five under a new collective agreement for the sector, making it less likely for customers to receive service in Swedish.

Shops, restaurants and cafés interviewed by the paper highlighted wanting to appeal to customers in a ’Nordic sense,’ making Swedish skills less of an asset, though some five percent of Finns speak it as their mother tongue.

Medical marijuana up in smoke

Finland’s Supreme Court has upheld social benefits administrator Kela’s decision not to foot a claimant's 950-euro monthly medical cannabis bill prescribed to treat depression, reflecting tight regulations and social stigma associated with medical marijuana in Finland.

Business magazine Talouselämä reports that psychiatric experts heard in the case, which wound through the court system, attested to cannabis treatment benefiting the patient in question.

The claimant had applied for Kela to cover the cost of the cannabis treatment as part of basic social assistance.

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