It is a fact that there is a significant overweight of men in the Nordic forestry sector. SNS explores the true picture of the gender inequalities, a picture that we intend to use as a basis for improvement!
The Nordic countries have worked together for over four decades to improve gender equality in all aspects of society. Although gender equality between the sexes is a condition for the success of the Nordic Model and a pillar of the modern Nordic welfare states, this is not reflected in the Nordic forest sector. Nordic Forest Research (SNS) is now compiling a report of gender equality in the sector.
– Our report basically shows that the forest sector is male dominated. Very male dominated, says Birger Vennesland, who has led SNS work to map gender equality in the Nordic forests.
Positive trend in education
But there are positive findings as well.
– The most positive trend is seen in research and higher education. This is where the proportion of women has increased the most.
Although the number of female students in forest education increases, the number of female professors is still very low.
Iceland at the front
In comparison between the Nordic countries, Iceland is in the front in terms of gender equality in research, education and administration. On the other hand, considering the number of women and men in boards for forest companies, Norway and Iceland are equal.
– The forest sector in Iceland is relatively new.
Denmark is also doing slightly better compared to Norway, Sweden and Finland, that are equally poor when it comes to gender equality. Norway has a low proportion of female forest owners and part of the explanation can be attributed to a former Norwegian law that prevented daughters from inheriting land and forest properties. Instead, it was the oldest sons who had the right to inherit the forests. By 2009, the law was changed so that sons and daughters now have equal rights to inherit forest land. It is now also regulated by law that all boards in public activities in Norway must consist of at least 40% women. This means that the state-owned forests in Norway are governed by equal boards.
Almost 100 % male entrepreneurs
The trend among entrepreneurs is unfortunately negative. Female machine operators or owners of entrepreneurial companies are extremely rare.
– Three years ago, a survey was conducted in Norway that showed that there was not a single female owner of a forest entrepreneurial company!
Women are needed
So, why is gender equality important in our forests after all?
– It is strategically smart to attract women. When the sector needs skills and labor, it is extremely stupid to exclude 50 % of the population, says Birger Vennesland.
Last but not least, everyone who is interested to work in the Nordic forestry sector should have the same opportunities to make their dreams come true.