Sub-goal 1: Even distribution of power and influence

The higher up in the hierarchy, the more men are to be found in society's sectors. Business, higher education and organisations with less transparency have few women in high positions. However, some progress in increasing gender equality has been made in politics and public administration over the past 25 years.

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Representation at local, regional and national level

After the 2022 election, the Riksdag consists of 46 percent women, the same as after the 2018 election. For state administration and in the Government Offices, the 50-50 goal has largely been achieved, which can be explained by the fact that the government has set clear gender equality goals and uses its power of appointment.

At the same time, development is stagnant in several respects at regional and municipal policy level. The representation of women in the municipal council has been around 40 percent for several years, while the municipal boards are still dominated by men. Most municipal and regional boards are also led by a male chairman. Women are found in decision-making positions to a greater extent where direct elections have been held and openness is high.

Women in politics more vulnerable than men

The sub-goal of an even distribution of power and influence is not just about counting heads. It is also important that women and men have the same right and opportunity to be active citizens and to shape the conditions for decision-making in all sectors of society.
Politicians high up in the hierarchy, both women and men, risk being subjected to violence, but women in high political positions are subjected more than men. Young women in politics are particularly vulnerable to domineering techniques, derogatory treatment and harassment. Women who pursue issues such as gender equality and men's violence against women are also particularly vulnerable.

Young people are underrepresented in municipal politics. They leave more often and among those who drop out, women are overrepresented. There is also an increasing ideological difference between young men and women. When it comes to attitudes towards gender equality, the group of young men stands out. They believe to a greater degree than women that society is equal and that women exaggerate inequality. Also, to a lesser extent, young men distance themselves from the idea that men are better political leaders and managers than women.

In Sweden, there is no legalised quota, but voluntary measures have shown to give positive results. All parliamentary parties except SD have some form of regulations for a more even distribution of women and men on the party lists.

More men in leading positions in higher education and business

Within private companies, academia and organisations, male dominance in leading positions is large. There are few women in the management of the large listed companies. Just over nine out of ten chairmen and CEOs of these companies are men. Men are also overrepresented as managers in industries traditionally coded as male.
Within universities and colleges, the conditions for women and men differ in terms of employment, career paths and access to research funding. Women are underrepresented in high academic positions of power. For example, only three out of ten professors are women and at technical colleges and universities the proportion of women among professors is even lower.

What are the challenges for equal power and influence?

Equal power and influence means that decision-making positions in society are characterized by an even gender distribution, but also that women and men have the same opportunities to influence decision-making. In its reports, the Swedish Gender Equality Agency highlights some areas for development:

• The part of the goal that concerns an even distribution needs to be concretised. Within central government and for state-owned companies, the government has set clear goals for the proportion of women and men in decision-making positions and time frames for when the goals are to be achieved.
• Measures are also required to achieve the goal.
• Young people are an important target group for gender equality policy. This applies both to differences in young women's and young men's attitudes to gender equality issues, and to young women's vulnerability and dropouts in politics.

Power and influence

Publication date: 7 January 2022

Last updated: 30 March 2023