Towards a more egalitarian working life

Sonja Raitamäki, our Social Policy Adviser, writes about equality in working life and the steps that ought to be taken towards a more egalitarian employment policy.

SYL is organizing a working life-themed seminar about job placement for young adults and their attitudes towards working life on Thursday, 25 October from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the main library (Kaisa-talo) cafe, Kirja & Kahvi. The Facebook event page for the seminar can be found here:


Last spring, we visited The Finnish Business School Graduates with student union career counsellors. They presented us with the results of their research related to equality in working life as well as their own views on the equality of working life. I was impressed with the work that they had done, but at the same time I was disappointed and bothered by the results.

During their studies, 79% of the women and 71% of the men in business schools thought that the careers of both parties in the relationship were equally important. However, as the business school graduates transitioned into working life, the numbers changed. At that point, only 51% of men and 54% of women thought that both careers are equally important. Unfortunately, the numbers dropped in such a way that men began to hold their own career as more important, and women also thought their spouse’s career was more important. I doubt that these figures only apply to business school graduates.

Iceland reformed its parental leave laws and now the nine-month parental leave is split in such a way that both the father and mother have three months of parental leave. One period (a duration of three months) can be split however the parents want. The is the same model that we support at SYL.

Iceland’s model has led to fathers accounting for roughly 30% of current parental leave allowances. In Finland, this figure is less than 10%. By the way, Iceland has been selected as the best country for women for several years already, and they also have the best child well-being.

The traditional conversation about parenting and motherhood has changed and continues to change with future generations. Previously, day-care was seen as the parents’ right to take their children to day-care for the duration of the workday. Today, early childhood education is also seen as the right of the child to be part of a systematic and goal-oriented activity, which promotes their growth, development, and learning. The change in this discourse is sure to increase appreciation for early childhood education and make it even more popular.

Next, it is time to modify the discourse about parental leave in a more egalitarian direction. We must see the use of parental leave as the right and responsibility of fathers. It is necessary if we want to promote a more egalitarian working life.

It is unfortunate that it was not possible to implement the parental leave reform during this government term. In the next elections, every self-respecting feminist and defender of equality must ensure that their candidate is ready to push the parental leave reform through. It is entirely untenable, in terms of egalitarian progress, to not enact this reform during the next government term.


Sonja Raitamäki

Social Policy Adviser, SYL




Child well-being in rich countries

Suomen ekonomit


The author apologizes for the binary treatment of gender in the text. The research that was considered in the text was implemented with a gender-binary. SYL recognizes the diversity of genders and promotes equality for all in its activities, without considering gender.

Latest news

See all news
SYL contact us SYL logo
Questions? Contact us!
We are the experts in student life, at your service. We are happy to answer any and all topical questions pertaining to students and higher education.