How can trade unions contribute to increase gender equality in worklife? A study of LO as a gender equality actor

From an international perspective, Sweden is one of the leading countries in respect to gender equality, with small differences between women’s and men’s participation in the labor market, in trade unions, and in politics. In spite of these advances, however, great challenges remain for creating a gender-equal working life. Trade unions constitute an important political arena in the work towards a more gender equal labor market. More and more women have entered the decision-making structures of the unions and the LO has integrated feminist values in their work. The conditions for feminist unionism should be good. The dominating picture, in research, of the union as a male-dominated bastion where the norm is the male breadwinner and a masculine leadership ideal, is challenged. The aim of this project is to investigate what happens in an organization, like LO, with its roots in the class struggle when a new dimension of conflict based on feminist ideas is supposed to be integrated in their work. Can these two dimensions be united? What strategies have the gender equality actors used? Did they meet conflicts and resistance in the unions? The project tries to answer these questions by studying feminist actors and their claims in LO and what kind of resistance they have met and to what extent they have had an impact. Theoretically the study relates to research about under what conditions feminist issues can have an impact in decision-making processes.

– This research is important because of the problems that remain with a labor market that continues to be characterized by gender segregation and inequality, in which women earn less, have worse positions, take the largest amount of parental leave, and involuntarily work part-time to a greater degree than men. In the wake of #metoo the many testimonies of sexual harassment have shown how deeply rooted gender power structures are in many work places as well as in organizations, says Christina Bergqvist who is leading the project.

Principal Investigator: Christina Bergqvist (Department of Government)

Period: 1 January 2019 - 31 December 2021

Funding: SEK 3 330 000 from Forte


Last modified: 2021-02-23