Despite generous parental leave, the Swedes are delaying parenthood
Women feel stressed in job interviews, when asked about plans to have children
In Sweden, the average age of having the first baby is 29. In some parts of Stockholm women wait until they’re 40 to become mothers. The reason: they’re afraid that their career will suffer, according to research conducted by Uppsala University.
Here are some quick facts from the research:
91% of women and 90% of men want to have children.
55% of women and 65% of men want their first child after the age of 30.
66% of women and 52% of men want their last child after the age of 35.
60% of women and 47% of men thought having children would mean that they would have less time for job and career.
38% of women and only 10% of men thought that having children would affect their status on the job market negatively.
Sweden is far from perfect with its parental leave
Sweden is one of the world’s most generous countries in giving parental leave and is renowned for having one of the best day care services. Moreover, it’s one of the most egalitarian societies regarding mothers versus fathers taking leave, responsibilities over childcare and household choirs. For example, fathers must take a minimum of 60 days, if they wish to take full advantage of the total 480 days given to both parents; the couple otherwise lose the days, if the father chooses not to take leave. Despite these generous benefits and Sweden’s open society, the Swedes still wait longer to have children, women still earn less than men, employers still discriminate against working moms and women still take 85% of the parental leave since men typically prioritize their career over family life. Yes, even Sweden with its great track record, can further progress.
What employers can do for parents
Being an employer, you can make a difference. Many women in the survey state that in job interviews they’ve been asked about their thoughts on having children. Naturally, they start to feel stressed that if they reveal too much, they’ll not get the job. As an employer, it’s advisable not to delve into people’s private lives.
4 things you can do to be a supportive employer
Create a warm and accepting work environment, where employees feel that their colleagues and manager will be happy for them if they’re expecting a baby.
Have all meetings between 9 am and 3 pm. That way parents can go pick-up their kids without feeling guilty or missing something. For the work time they miss, they can catch-up at night when the children are asleep.
Provide employees with parental-leave-pay to make-up for lost salary.
Some Swedish companies offer artificial insemination -is it going overboard or is it, on the contrary, a positive and generous gesture? The question is: do you really encourage parents to work for your company?