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Why start a Scandinavian/Nordic network for women in the car industry ...

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

- when, according to the Nordic model, we are the world's happiest and most equal?

The Nordic model is a term based on the fact that in the Nordics/Scandinavia, social equality and a strong welfare state are the basis for the economy, politics and the institutional systems. The societal models are roughly the same in the Nordics - The Nordic model.

The positive aspect of this is that international indices show that people in the Nordic countries are the world's happiest and most equal. The unique and special thing that separates the Nordics from the rest of the world is this Nordic community, which is the impression the rest of the world has. This gives the Nordic region a high position as a kind of successful brand (Nation Branding).

The negative thing is that political issues related to women are not included in hearings when gender equality policy is carried out in the Nordics. It is taken for granted that we are equal and it is therefore not a topic.

The perception of the egalitarian Nordic region is not entirely in line with reality. The perception is a kind of tabloid reality based on indices that give the impression that it is no longer important to work for equality.

Democratic processes are weakened as a consequence of there being a shift in power. Segregation in the labor market and wage differences do not appear in the indices and they do not branding either. What is burning are the foreign indices that say we are the world's happiest and most equal.

National brands are constructed perceptions that do not reflect real reality, said Nadia Kaneva (associate professor at the University of Denver) at the conference "Nordic Branding" in 2021. One of the disadvantages of competition and brands is that they create simplified images.

- We risk emptying democracy of meaning and even reversing established political norms and values, she warns.

When it comes to the car industry, the statistics show that we are far from the Nordic model. It is possible that we are happier than equals, but when nine out of ten in the car industry (Norwegian figures) are men, we cannot claim that we are on target and that equality is not something to work for.

I get reactions from a few men when I post invitations and information about our new Scandinavian network for women in the car industry and the upcoming conference Sisters In Cars Scandinavia (Oslo, November 29-30). The reactions are that we do not include everyone, only women. We would like to include everyone, but have primarily focused on women. If women had been included in the past, there would have been no need for a women's network, but we are not. It is probably not deliberate, but the 9% proportion of women clearly shows that equality has not been at the top of the priority lists. The reactions are also based on the fact that some of the men believe that we have a "we women against men" mentality. We do NOT have that. There is no competition between women and men, but we have a goal to stand together and create the piece of the puzzle that is missing and which ultimately provides the balanced whole that we all need, want and must have in order to achieve the democratic principles that constitute a well-functioning labor market.

No woman wants to be employed because she is a woman. She wants to be hired because she is qualified to do the job. The challenge for employers in the car industry is that there are few women who apply for positions there. We must look at why this is so and take measures to ensure that more women seek work in this exciting industry. Good role models can make a positive contribution.

By discussing relevant and adequate topics about equality, diversity, sustainability, technology, recruitment, etc. with women on the podium and in panel debates, we can find role models and qualified voices. Men are of course welcome to contribute, but this time the women must be seen and heard. Men hiring new employees should actually come to the conference.

My urgent wish is that there will be enough of us to implement some measures and goals that will reduce the imbalance and that we will become a natural part of the whole, also in our own eyes.

I have used Julie Liljeroth´s (communications advisor at the University of Oslo), article as a basis for part of the text. You can read her article here (Norwegian language):

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