IN NUMBERS: Are women equally represented in Danish leadership roles?

Women currently comprise 43 percent of Denmark's members of parliament, and 35 percent of the current government. But the proportion of representation in leading business roles is lower.

IN NUMBERS: Are women equally represented in Danish leadership roles?
2019 file photo. Denmark currently has 76 female MPs, 43 percent of the total number of seats. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Following the election in November last year, the proportion of female MPs in the Danish parliament increased to 76 or 43.4 percent. That is the closest to equal representation in the history of the parliament according to a Statistics Denmark press release on March 8th.

The 43.4 percent of female MPs is 14 percent higher than at the election in 1987, when 39-7 percent of elected lawmakers were women.

“In 2022 we got the highest proportion of women ever in parliament. We can also see the same trend in people running for election to parliament, where 38.4 percent of candidates were women, the highest proportion seen thus far,” Statistics Denmark special consultant Annemette Lindhardt Olsen said.

Some 31 percent of candidates in 1987 were women, and the proportion varied between 27 percent and 33 percent until the 2015 election.

The proportion of female MPs elected in Denmark since 1987. Graphic: Statistics Denmark

Local governments show evidence of a similar trend, with 35.9 percent female representatives at municipalities at the last local elections in 2021, a 4 percent increase compared to 31.8 percent in 2009.

Elected boards at Regions, the authorities which administer health services regionally, reached equality at the 2021 election with 50.2 percent women elected, compared to 35.1 percent in 2009.


Women were first allowed to run for election in Denmark in 1915. Education Minister Nina Bang became the first female minister under Social Democrat Thorvald Stauning’s government in 1924.

Apart from 1924, governments remained exclusively the domain of men until 1947, when just 4.5 percent of the cabinet were women. That proportion only increased to over 20 percent by the late 1980s, but sped up in the 1990s with 37 percent female ministers under PM Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in 1993.

The highest proportion of female ministers was 48 percent, back in 2009 in Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s first spell as prime minister. The current government has 35 percent female ministers.

As for prime ministers: It took Denmark until 2011 to elect its first female prime minister, when Helle Thorning-Schmidt defeated Rasmussen. Current PM Mette Frederiksen, a Social Democrat like Thorning-Schmidt, is Denmark’s second female government leader and has won two elections.

The proportion of female directors at Danish companies since 2014. Graphic: Statistics Denmark

Company boards

Boardrooms at Danish companies continue to be relatively male-dominated. In 2021, some 81 percent of registered board members at Danish businesses were men. The percentage of men and women on Danish boards remained stable between 2014 and 2021.

“If we exclusively look at production companies, the proportion of women in boardrooms is highest at companies with over 250 employees – especially highly technological companies, where the proportion of women was 28 percent in 2021,” Statistics Denmark special consultant Kalle Emil Holst Hansen said.

Small and medium sized businesses have the lowest equality between men and women in boardrooms, he also said.

The proportion of female directors has increased slightly since 2014 but remains at a modest 16 percent, according to the data.

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Denmark’s equality minister criticises party for celebrating all-female MPs

The government’s minister for equality has criticised opposition party Alternative after it celebrated becoming the first party in the history of the Danish parliament to be represented solely by female MPs.

Denmark’s equality minister criticises party for celebrating all-female MPs

A social media post by the party, celebrating its status as the first party to have an all-female parliamentary group, has been criticised by Minister for Equality Marie Bjerre of the centre-right Liberals (Venstre).

Bjerre said the post was insensitive and gave the impression men weren’t welcome in Alternative, a left-wing party with an environmentalist platform.

“It should never be the aim to have a group consisting only of women. It sends the signal that men aren’t as welcome and this polarises the fight for equality,” Bjerre said.

The post from Alternative, published on Facebook on Thursday, used the text “today is an historic day”.

The party’s MPs are now all women – albeit temporarily – after Nikoline Erbs Hillers-Bendtsen was approved as a stand-in for Torsten Gejl, who is on sick leave due to stress.

The remaining MPs in Alternative’s six seats are lead political spokesperson Franciska Rosenkilde along with Helene Liliendahl Brydensholt, Sascha Faxe, Christina Olumeko and Theresa Scavenius.

Rosenkilde told news wire Ritzau on Thursday that she considered a fully female parliamentary group to be a positive thing because there is still a male majority in parliament overall.

But an “optimal” team of MPs for the party would include men, she said when asked.

“Yes absolutely [male MPs should be included, ed.]. We are fighting for equality for all genders,” she said.

Bjerre said that it was unthinkable to “celebrate a parliamentary group with only men”.

In a written comment, Rosenkilde later said “Alternative has never wanted a 100 percent female parliamentary group.”

“This is purely the decision of the voters, since we had an equal number of male and female candidates,” she said.

“We are simply marking a historic moment that took 105 years to reach – you might think that our Minister for Equality would acknowledge that,” she said.