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More than half of the Faroese women work part time

Over 50 per cent of Faroese women work part time. According to Erika Hayfield, one likely reason for this is that many men leave home for extended periods to work in the fishing and offshore oil industries. Hayfield is in charge of the third study on part-time work, which focuses on the situation in the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.

Erika Hayfield. Pressbild
 Erika Hayfield. Pressbild

In 2012, the Nordic Council of Ministers commissioned Nordic Information on Gender to coordinate a project called Part-Time Work in the Nordic Region. The ambition has been to contribute with analyses and develop new knowledge about part-time work.
To date, the project has yielded two reports and two follow-up conferences. However, the published reports have not covered the Nordic autonomous regions. Thus, a third report focusing on the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland is now underway. Dr Hayfield, assistant professor in social sciences at the University of the Faroe Islands, is leading the efforts.
Tell me about the work. What are you up to?
‘We’re taking a close look at part-time work in these areas. We spend most of the time collecting information, mapping data and compiling previous research. We’re also conducting our own smaller study, with three focus groups comprising Faroese women who have been interviewed about why they have chosen to work part time.’
How common is part-time work in the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland?
‘More than 50 per cent of Faroese women work part time. One likely reason, among others, for this is that many men leave home for extended periods to work in the fishing and offshore oil industries. They may for example be gone for two weeks at a time to work in Norway. In the meantime, the women have to manage their homes and children alone. We still don’t know what the situation looks like in Greenland and Åland, but the labour markets clearly have many differences.’
Which aspects of part-time work are you studying?
‘We’re approaching the issue from a structural, cultural and individual perspective. To what extent do cultural factors, such as the view of gender roles, affect the part-time work patterns? How are cultural factors interacting with the structures of the welfare systems, such as the design of child-care services? Faroese dads only get two weeks of parental leave, which signals that their government does not actively encourage men to take care of their children.’
What’s the biggest challenge in the project?
‘Very little research has been done on the interaction between cultural and structural factors. Something as simple as finding out how many people work part time in Greenland and Åland turned out to be difficult at first. But now we have received great support from Nordregio. They are giving us some useful data. We’re very pleased with the initiative to the study. Living on islands in the middle of an ocean implies a very unique situation that needs to be studied.’

Updated 18 April 2020