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WORKING IN NORWAY

Working in Norway: Is there a gender wage gap?

Many describe Norway as a gender equality pioneer, but are women still paid less than men for doing the same job? 

Pictured is a work meeting.
Employees gather at a work meeting. Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Norway is often lauded for its progressive approach to the workplace and for being considered one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. 

The country has a broad set of legislation, which it frequently updates, to ensure parity between genders and other underrepresented groups in society. 

For example, Since 2004, state-owned company boards must be comprised of at least 40 percent women, with that rule being applied to publicly traded firms since 2008.

The government has moved to extend this rule further to apply to another 10,000-25,000 companies. Currently, women make up around 20 percent of boardrooms in Norway. 

Additionally, the Norwegian Gender Equality Act was aimed at reducing discrimination in Norway. Then in 2016, it was the first country globally to establish a gender equality ombud. 

So how does this all add up in terms of the gender pay gap? 

Unfortunately, for all the work Norway has done towards trying to end discrimination in the workplace (and society in general), men still get paid more than women for the same job. 

The World Economic Forum publishes an annual report on the state of men’s and women’s wages. In 2022, it found that Norway has a gender parity of 84.5 percent. 

This means that women in Norway get paid around 84.5 percent of what men earn. 

While this figure may be disappointing, Norway was one of the best-performing countries for gender pay parity in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. 

Only Iceland (90.8 percent) and Finland (86 percent) had a higher gender pay parity than Norway. 

Norway’s national data agency, Statistics Norway (SSB), also keeps data on the gender wage gap. It found in 2022 that women earned an average of 88 percent of men’s wages. This is up from 83.3 percent in 2001. 

Norway’s gender wage gap explained

One of the reasons it said that men earned more than women on average was that men were overrepresented in the highest-paying jobs, bringing the average wage up overall. 

“An important reason why women, on average, earn less than men is that men are overrepresented among wage earners who have the highest salaries. There are, therefore, few women compared to men at the top of the distribution. Correspondingly, there are more women than men in the middle of the distribution,” an earlier report on the gender pay gap reads. 

When the highest wage earners are removed from the equation, the pay gap in Norway is reduced from 87.9 percent to 96.2 percent. 

“When we remove the top 10 percent of salaries, the average salary for men drops considerably, while it does not for women. Among the jobs with the ten percent highest salaries, just under 30 percent are women. There are thus too few women at the top of the distribution for it to raise the average as much as it does for men,” SSB writes. 

 When using a median wage, which doesn’t get skewed by the presence of the highest and lowest earners, women earn 94.1 percent of what men do. 

Another explanation for the wage gap in Norway offered by Statistics Norway centres on where men and women choose to work. 

Men were more likely to be found in the private sector, where the highest-earning jobs were found- while 70 percent of women worked in the public sector.

Women in working and public life

Figures also point to women being underrepresented at the top level in both working and public life. Some 63 percent of management positions in Norway are held by men. When accounting for just the most senior and executive roles, women make up just over a quarter of senior management staff in Norway. 

While Norway’s governemnt cabinet has a majority of women serving, just 34 percent of local mayors in Norway are women. Women also make up just 40 percent of municipal councillors in Norway.  

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For members

OSLO

What commuters need to know about travel in and out of Oslo

Living outside Oslo is considerably cheaper and has other perks, too, such as a more relaxed pace of life. As a result, commuting into the capital has become increasingly popular.

What commuters need to know about travel in and out of Oslo

Rent and house prices have seen more people decide to live outside Oslo and commute in for work.

There are several other reasons, besides money, that people would want to commute into the capital. They may have flexible working hours and prefer to live in a quieter location.

They may also want to live closer to nature or, if they have children, be closer to their children’s extended family.

Still, there are quite a few things you should know about commuting in and out of Oslo.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Norway’s commuter tax deductions

What are the pros?

In other cities, London is an example, and it’s not uncommon to hear stories of workers who commute two hours into the city each day.

Even some people living in large cities like Tokyo, London, and New York will spend an hour each way just getting across the city to work.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case in Oslo. Given how small the city is and the different transport options available, long commutes really don’t need to be the case when living outside of Oslo.  

Trains from towns like Ski and Lillestrøm can reach Oslo in 10 minutes. Even if you head a bit further out to Asker, the train only takes 20 minutes, while from Drammen, the commute is about 30 minutes.

A bit further out, the commute from Drobåk can be done in around 40 minutes. Meanwhile, the train from Kongsberg takes just over an hour.

There are also plenty of options, there is a pretty robust network of busses ferrying workers into Oslo Bus Terminal everyday, there are regional trains, many choose to drive, and there are even ferries across the Oslofjord you can choose to take. 

The other pros, as we’ve mentioned, are being able to live in a calmer environment, being closer to nature, and saving money on rent or mortgage payments.

What are the costs?

For most, public transport may well end up being the way they get to work, as in some cases it can be quicker than driving.

Given how common toll roads are, the cost of running a car, when you also take into account fuel and insurance, can add up.

It’s also hard to put an estimate on the cost of running a car as it will depend on the fuel economy, route you take, distance your drive and whether the car needs regular repairs.  

The commuting cost for public transport will be easy to calculate if you live in the Akershus region. This is because public transport firm Ruter is responsible for the Akershus, which surrounds Oslo.

Essentially, the cost of a ticket (when using Ruter’s yearly travel ticket) ranges between 15,894 for two zones, 22,845 kroner for three zones, and the same for travel across all zones.

When using the train with Vy, the cost of a season pass in areas where Ruter operates is the same as that of Ruter.

Given that Oslo is the most expensive area to rent, the money you save on rent is unlikely to be eaten up by the cost of a rail ticket.

Are there any downsides?

Yes. The main issue for those commuting in and out of Oslo via train is punctuality. In recent years, train traffic has become much less punctual, and services have been heavily affected by signal failure.

More than 700 signal failures have occurred over the past five years, according to figures from network rail operator Bane Nor.

Such failures are most common when traffic from Oslo Central Station is at its peak, such as rush hour.

During the first six months of 2024, around 76 percent of rush hour trains have been on schedule, which is well below the target of 85 percent.

Capacity has also been an issue. Despite how frequently the trains run, they can still be overcrowded during peak hours.

There are plans to address this, as double-decker trains will be introduced in the coming years on regional trains in eastern Norway (these are trains that carry the R designation). However, these plans don’t provide an immediate solution to the issue, as they may not be in place for another 5-6 years.

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