Media portrayals of male and female roles in the working life have an impact on young people’s thinking about their own career choice and advancement opportunities, reminds Saara Taalas, a professor at Linnaeus University in Sweden. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


FINNISH LABOUR MARKETS are unusually gendered, says Saara Taalas, a professor of business studies at Linnaeus University in Sweden.

“Women, mothers, foreigners and young people are residual categories used to pigeonhole people in Finland. Men, on the other hand, are seldom representatives of the male category but rather portrayed as capable individuals,” she commented to Kauppalehti on Sunday.

Her impression is corroborated by statistics. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported that Finland ranks at the bottom end of the spectrum among its member states in terms of how gendered jobs are.

The deep-rooted prejudices are manifested particularly in public impressions of traditional male roles, which can affect and mould the thinking of young people about career choice and advancement possibilities, according to Taalas.

“A recent study found that the image of a masculine leader still lives on strong in the media,” she stated.

The Finnish media, she added, tends to portray men as leaders, coders, panellists and interviewees, whereas the cultural codes founded on such portrayals are significant particularly in regards to recruitment.

“Applicant interpret the cultural codes in a vacancy ad very carefully. If you’re looking for a ninja, a fighter, a rock star or a Mikko, minorities won’t send applications. The ad provides a clear hint about delineation,” she explained.

A Finnish software developer recently came under criticism for a job vacancy advertisement lined with drawings of men’s faces in which it said it was looking for a “better Mikko” to add to its 26 Mikkos.

“The humour was based on the desire to play with the thought of having a residual category called Mikko. It doesn’t hit home any more, because no one wants to represent a particular category but rather to be faced as a capable individual when it comes to recruiting and job duties,” analysed Taalas.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi