Sub-goal 3: Equal education

Today, there are no formal differences between women and men when it comes to access to education. Instead, it is important to pay attention to the different conditions and opportunities for girls and boys, women and men when it comes to education.

Elever i vita labbrockar arbetar med vätska i provrör.

Sub-goal three is about women and men having the same opportunities and conditions when it comes to education, study choices and personal development.

School is an important arena for counteracting traditional gender patterns and laying the foundation for an equal society. A gender equal education covers the entire formal education system, from pre-school to university and college, adult education and polytechnics. Education outside of the formal education system is also covered, such as folk high schools and the adult education organisations.

What is the gender equality situation in education?

Women and men, girls and boys, study extensively in different types of educations, and few education settings can be said to have an even gender distribution. Possible explanations for gender-segregated education can be found on a societal, organisational and individual level. Girls 'and boys' early educational choices affect how they later choose a profession and thus also future opportunities for livelihood, independence and influence in society.

In upper secondary school, a more even gender distribution is noticeable in the pre-university programmes than in the vocational programmes. The level of education and professional background of parents come into play when students choose programmes. Children of parents with a low level of education more often apply for vocational programmes that are clearly dominated by women or men, such as health and care or technology and construction.

Additional factors that influence young people's educational choices are upbringing environment and family relationships, interests and abilities, social interaction, labor market factors, information and study and career guidance. In addition, many of these factors covary.

Girls perform better as a group in school than boys, but at the same time girls feel higher demands in school, are more stressed and feel worse mentally. Children and young people are exposed, and are at risk of being exposed, to sexual harassment at school and on social media. It is important that adults who deal with children and young people have knowledge about how they can respond to those who have been exposed.

Preschool, school and student health services have a great responsibility to work early against gender stereotypical norms and for gender equality. In order to make students aware of different power structures in society, and to strengthen their ability to make conscious and independent choices, the knowledge area Sexuality, consent and relationships is included in the curriculum from 2022.

Women are in the majority among students in higher education, but in the minority in higher positions at universities. Today, only three out of ten professors are women. Gender harassment is a common form of vulnerability in academia and a serious threat to the health, study and work environment of individuals. All in all, this means that the conditions are different for women and men when it comes to higher education, careers and opportunities for research.

A strategic measure to counteract unequal conditions in colleges and universities is the government assignment Gender Equality Integration in Colleges and Universities. Under this, gender equality work must be carried out systematically throughout the regular operations and at all decision levels.

What are the challenges for a gender-equal education?

Despite extensive knowledge of the structures and processes that shape the conditions for education, the Swedish Gender Equality Agency sees that gender inequality problems and areas of development remain in society. Therefore, more work is needed to

• counteract gender differences in educational choices and break gender-segregation in education
• improve study results and reduce gender differences in study results and the transition to higher education
• improve students' mental health
• prevent and combat sexual harassment and improve the study and work environment for students and staff.


Publication date: 7 January 2022

Last updated: 13 January 2023