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Nordic co-operation for gender equality in working life and education

The labour markets in the Nordic countries are changing rapidly. The green transition and digital development are bringing new requirements, while challenges also remain in the Nordic countries’ efforts to achieve gender equality in the world of work, where both education and the labour markets are strongly gender segregated. This gender segregation has consequences for study and working conditions, pay, and the distribution of power and resources in the community.


Combating gender segregation in the Nordic countries’ labour markets and the education systems linked to them is one of the strategic areas of intervention in official Nordic co-operation in the area of gender equality. More knowledge about working life and education from a gender perspective is therefore an important part of efforts to attain the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision that the Nordic region is to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. 

A sustainable world of work – now and in the future

What needs to be done to enable sustainable development that is based on human rights and gender equality? How will the needs in a green transition be met? The world of work is facing a variety of challenges, among them challenges emanating from technological change, demographic shifts and regional differences. Our publication Towards a sustainable future world of work in the Nordic countries – The gender perspective on the opportunities and challenges describes these changes and focuses on three of the challenges for achieving a sustainable world of work. These challenges are presented against the background of policy goals for sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

Gender perspective on regional challenges, regional policy and demographic trends in a Nordic context – a research overview (English summary) brings together knowledge about demographic trends in the Nordic countries, and the challenges associated with these, in relation to the labour market and welfare. This publication shows in particular how important it is to apply the gender perspective to the issues. Climate, Gender and Consumption – a research overview of gender perspectives on sustainable lifestyles (to be published shortly), gender stereotypes are revealed and challenged in relation to consumption, lifestyle and climate impact using seven themes, which include food, transport, housing and work. This research overview contributes to a better understanding of how differences arise, are strengthened and reproduced.  

Knowledge to combat gender segregation 

In the Nordic countries, education and the labour market are strongly gender segregated. This segregation is both vertical and horizontal, meaning that women and men are segregated in different courses and study programmes and sectors of the labour market, and also find themselves in different positions in the hierarchies of education systems and the world of work. In order to understand the gender segregation in education and the labour market, it is important to clarify the connections between society, education and the labour market. This knowledge needs to be broadened and deepened.

How knowledge, learning and education are viewed has changed, as has the logics of governance. This in turn is related to and affected by changes in both the world of work and society as a whole. On this theme, we have produced two reports: Vocational education and training in the Nordic countries – Knowledge and interventions to combat gender segregation and Gender perspective on the high-tech labour market of the future – A Nordic research overview on education choices within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) (English summary). Our publication Equal pay in the Nordic countries – the law and policy strategies highlights the gender pay gap, which continues to be one of the major obstacles to achieving gender equality in the Nordic countries.  

A world of work free from violence and harassment

Violence, bullying and other forms of harassment in the workplace are major social challenges with serious consequences for individuals and workplace organisations. Sexual harassment is a major problem in the world of work in the Nordic countries, as demonstrated not least by the #MeToo calls for action.  

One of the publications that NIKK has produced on this theme is the Nordic research overview Sexually harassed at work. This report identifies how sexual harassment takes different forms in people’s working lives, depending on their occupation. Read more about our work to combat sexual harassment here.  

Networks and co-operation 

Nordic co-operation on gender equality in the world of work and education also takes the form of projects funded by the Nordic Gender Equality Fund and by the Nordic research funding initiative on sexual harassment at work, both managed by NIKK.  We have compiled results from several of these projects in the publication Co-operation for gender equality in working life.

You can read more about funded projects within the area here (filter by ‘Labour and labour market’ and ‘Education’).  

Photo: Johnér
Photo: Johnér