Tag Archives: gender

It’s good to be a woman in Norway

Or at least it’s not as bad as it is in other countries.


Norway (1) leads the world in closing the gender gap between men and women, according to the overall ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2008.

The Report measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women:
1) Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2) Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher-level education
3) Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
4) Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

According to the report, Norway has closed over 82% of the gender gap between men and women.  In other words, I still can be 18% thankful that I’m a man in Norway.

In regional news, Norway was once again able to stick it to its Nordic neighbors, as Finland, Sweden, and Iceland rounded out the top 4.  Denmark lagged behind in 7th.  At the other end of the spectrum, Yemen continued its aggressive affirmative action program for men.

My own country improved to 27th this year.  Thanks Sarah Palin!


Hytta or hytten? And other silliness….

One thing I have consistently been amazed about is the amount of linguistic variation and diversity in Norway.  Not only is Norwegian easy to learn but its native speakers are also pretty forgiving in many respects. 

For instance, the Teach Yourself Norwegian book that I am using to try to teach mysel…er, you get it…says this about gender:

All nouns belong to one of these [three] genders in Norwegian.

Don’t worry about the feminine gender because:

  • most feminine nouns can be used as masculine
  • there are not many feminine nouns
  • in Norwegian literature, newspapers and formal speech, one seldom uses feminine gender.

For these reasons masculine and feminine nouns are grouped together and called the common gender.

Hold on just a second there, partner.  You just wiped out an entire gender in the first lesson! 

The amazing thing is that everyone just chalks up the differences to regional dialects and everyone is completely okay with this.  Compared to almost any other language, the rules for Norwegian appear to be quite flexible.  Obviously you cannot say anything and claim it is a regional dialect, but it’s almost that bad. 

As another example, different dialects cannot even agree on how to say the word “I.”  In the Oslo area, it is pronounced kind of like a “y” in “yawn” plus “I.”  In the second largest city, Bergen, it is pronounced like “ee-eh-g” spoken quickly.  In the third largest city, Trondheim, it is pronounced like the “a” in “cat.”

Finally, there are even two acceptable ways to say “Oslo.”  It can be more like “Oshlo” or “Oslo.”