Change in Gender Role in Slovenia at the beginning of 21st century

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In this study we have compared situation in Slovenia and situation in more egalitarian countries on the field of gender roles. We want to show some differences between countries in Europe, who is considered as more egalitarian than Slovenia, who is a new Member in the European Union. It must be also considered that Slovenia, as former socialist country, have very different recent history than Sweden and Norway. Women in Slovenia were already experiencing the double burden of full-time employment and responsibility for work at home. In the Article we would like to show the importance of educating young generations, beginning from early childhood, that more egalitarian gender-role beliefs lead us to better relationship between all people. We have shown that more equal sharing of responsibilities between men and women at home and more time availability to take care of social relationship between people, especially with our children, are in strong correlation with well-being like van de Vijver has argue in 2007 (van de Vijver, 2007).


Gender role is socially constructed – and gender aspect is embedded in all social processes of everyday life and also in social organizations. Individual actions which are primarily a function of personal interests, are in practise governed by the social structure. Gender inequality plays a role in the division of household labor; meachanisms of it are theoretically explained by gendered selves, by cultural expectations and moral accountability, men's jobs organization (so they cannot succeed at work and do their share at home) etc. Universal theoretical explanation for the gendered division of household labor does not exist – we cannot rely on any universal social laws. But this explanation could also be very practical: married women may choose to do considerably more than their equitable share of child care because of their closer relationship with child and responsibility: they would not leave their children without proper parenting if they see no likely alternative that the children's father will care properly (Risman 2004). Major responsibility for children lies on women, this is visible in traditional societies, where the child care is not fully shared even if women are employed and official commitment to equality exists (for women in China). The symmetry based on family production models was broken in recent social changes: women moved from their traditional domain and increasingly operate in both spheres – home and public. On the other hand, gender roles are changing more slowly and that means dual roles for women and in most cases also work overload (Hare-Mustin 1988). Thus the former goal – to ensure better life conditions for their children – could be counterproductive (as the quality of the family communication and education could drop considerably under time and other pressures). Needed policy changes in the area of the family are expected to continue but to be slow. An important question must be how could be such changes reintegrated as a political project not just in the public domain but also at the individual level where the key lies in the day-to-day intimate interaction of both males (Sullivan 2004). Attention should be paid to the sphere of household as it is the other side of the coin: involvement in the public sphere.

Case study: Slovenia versus more egalitarian countries in the field of gender inequality

According to Fuwa's research, the most egalitarian countries considering GEM (gender empowerment) are Sweden and Norway (Fuwa, 2004). That is shown in Table 1. In this study we have examined available information from Eurostat Data (Romans, 2008) and compared the situation in Slovenia with Sweden, Norway and average in the EU-27. We want to show that in more egalitarian countries, where more sharing behavior exists, men and women have more time availability for activities, which contribute to higher well-being of their lives and better relations between people in community. We have compared some values of indicators, which could describe life of women and men in these countries. In tables from 2 to 7 we have collected values for some indicators separate for women and men to see the most obvious differences. In addition we can compare values between different countries and between both genders.

Table 1. Country-level Descriptive Statistics (Fuwa, 2004)

Country Housework Division, Average GEM
Slovenia 3.93 0.13
Sweden 3.74 1.00
Norway 3.73 1.00

In Table 1 we can observe Average of Division of Housework and GEM. Housework division is 3 in case of an equal division of housework between husband and wife. GEM is 1 in case of the most egalitarian countries. We can see that despite the GEM is 1 for Sweden and Norway, the Housework Division are higher than 3. That means that women still do the majority of the housework. According to these numbers situation in Slovenia is relative good. Despite of much more lower value for GEM, we do not have so much higher value for Household Division.

Table 2. Activity rates by country and sex, %

Number of persons aged 15 – 64 years in the labor force Men and women Men Women
EU-27 70.9 78.1 63.7
Slovenia 72.3 77.1 67.3
Sweden 80.2 82.4 77.9
Norway 79.2 82.1 76.2

Table 2 shows that the Activity rates in Sweden and Norway are 80.2 % and 79.2 % compare to Slovenia’s 72.3 % among both genders. People in Slovenia are not so active (lower participation in labor force) as in Sweden and Norway, but little more active than in EU-27. Interesting is, that men in Slovenia participate in labor force less as men's participation in EU-27 is, meanwhile the values for women's participation in Slovenia are much more higher than women's participation in EU-27.

Table 3. Employment rates by country and sex, %

Number of persons aged 15-64 years in employment Men and women Men Women
EU-27 66 73.2 58.8
Slovenia 69 74.2 63.6
Sweden 75.7 78.1 73.3
Norway 77.3 80.1 74.3

In Table 3 we can observe lower values for Employment rates in Slovenia when we compare these values to Sweden and Norway. But in Slovenia we have higher Employment rates than in EU-27, thanks to the fact that much more women are employed in Slovenia (63.6 %) than in EU-27 (58.8 %).

Table 4. Part-time employment as share of total employment by country and sex, %

Number of persons aged 15 years and more in part-time employment Men and women Men Women
EU-27 18 7.6 30.8
Slovenia 8.9 7.4 10.6
Sweden 23.7 11.2 37.6
Norway 26.9 13.1 42.3

Data in Table 4 are very interesting. We can see that in Slovenia share of women in part-time jobs is much lower than in EU-27 and significant lower than in Sweden and Norway, where also a lot of men work in part-time jobs. That indicates on much more time availability of women and also men to take care of their children, relationship between spouses and to take part in other social activities. Here could we found one of the reason that women and men are much more satisfied with their position in society in Sweden and Norway than in Slovenia.

In addition of this study we have applied some interesting data found in news release for International Women’s Day (Eurostat, 2006).

Table 5. Share of women among tertiary students

Share of women among tertiary students, 2003
Total Science, maths. & computing Humanities & art
EU-25 54.6 37.3 65.6
Slovenia 56.2 30.0 73.4
Sweden 59.6 42.8 63.1

In Table 5 we can observe that about 55 % of tertiary students in the EU-25 are women, in Slovenia this number is even little higher. In Sweden almost 60 % of tertiary students are women.

Table 6. Breakdown of domestic work for women aged 20 to 74 (in %)

Women Slovenia Sweden Norway
Food preparation 29 23 22
Dish washing 9 10 9
Cleaning & other upkeep 19 14 16
Laundry, ironing & handicrafts 11 10 12
Gardening 8 4 4
Construction & repairs 1 2 2
Shopping and services 7 13 12
Childcare 10 13 15
Other domestic work 6 11 8
Domestic work total 100 100 100

Table 6 present the most usual domestic work and belonging shares (of 100) dedicated to these activities in all tree countries for women. We can see, that for food preparation in Slovenia women spend 29 % of all domestic work, they devote for cleaning 19 % from 100 % of all domestic work, 11 % for laundry and ironing and only 10 % for childcare. We can observe that women in Sweden and Norway dedicate less time for food preparation and for cleaning. Time dedicated for laundry is almost the same. They spend much less time for gardening and much more time for childcare.

Table 7. Breakdown of domestic work for men aged 20 to 74 (in %)

Men Slovenia Sweden Norway
Food preparation 11 17 17
Dish washing 2 7 6
Cleaning & other upkeep 20 13 14
Laundry, ironing & handicrafts 1 3 1
Gardening 20 7 7
Construction & repairs 15 13 17
Shopping and services 10 15 15
Childcare 7 11 12
Other domestic work 14 14 11
Domestic work total 100 100 100

In Table 7 we can observe breakdown of domestic work for men. For food preparation Swedish or Norwegian men spend much more time than men in Slovenia. Interesting data are for cleaning & other upkeep. Slovenian men spend for this activity much more time than men in Sweden or Norway. They dedicate for this kind of work even more time than women in Slovenia. Slovenian men are also much more active in gardening than their colleagues in Sweden or Norway. Men in Sweden and Norway spend much more time with their children than Slovenian men, even more than Slovenian women.

Table 8. Breakdown of domestic work for both women and men aged 20 to 74 (in %)

Men Slovenia Sweden Norway
Food preparation 40 40 39
Dish washing 11 17 14
Cleaning & other upkeep 39 27 30
Laundry, ironing & handicrafts 12 13 13
Gardening 28 11 11
Construction & repairs 16 15 19
Shopping and services 17 28 27
Childcare 17 24 27
Other domestic work 20 25 19

In Table 8 are shares summarized, so we can observe how much time is dedicated to each domestic work. Time dedicated to food preparation is in all three countries almost the same. For cleaning in Sweden or in Norway they dedicate less time; also for gardening people in Sweden and Norway spend much less time than in Slovenia. On contrary in Sweden and Norway much more time is spent with their children, more time is dedicated for shopping and services.

Discussion and conclusion

Trends in the future on the field of gender role are more sharing behavior between genders and more egalitarian beliefs in the society. Change in gender role attitudes begin to extend forward more equal share in responsibilities between men and women and forward more equal attitude in society. Change in gender roles is happening very slow and can be insignificant or more liberal. For Sweden and Norway, we can say that Employment rates are very high, also among women. But, in these countries a lot of people work in part time jobs; especially women's share in part-time employment is very high. They have more time availability for families, they have more egalitarian relationship outside and inside their homes, more sharing behavior, which contribute to higher well-being of people's lives, like van de Vijver have argued in year 2007 (van de Vijver, 2007). In Slovenia situation is much more different. Slovenia and Sweden and Norway have very different recent histories; Slovenia was a part of former socialist Yugoslavia and women remains responsible for housework and was already experiencing the double burden of full-time employment and responsibility for work in the home. Only 8.9 % of all employment is part-time jobs, majority of people work sometimes even ten or more hours per day. They have less time availability for other social activities; they spend less time with their children. In Slovenia also a lot of women work in full-time jobs, share of Slovenian women in part-time jobs is even lower than share of men's part-time employment in Sweden or Norway. People in Slovenia have not enough time to take care of their families. We can also say that in Slovenia men do not take equal share in responsibilities for home and household (especially for food preparation). Women are too overburdened with work at home and outside the home. Both genders could take less time for cleaning & upkeep; they spend perhaps too much time for gardening and maybe they should dedicated part of this time to childcare and other social events. Younger generations have less traditional beliefs, but still a lot of work must be done in direction of more egual gender role beliefs, more sharing behavior among families and also forward more egalitarian positions in society. We must pay more attention to activities which could mean improved well-being of people's lives in Slovenia. We must spend more time with our children in order to give them a good basis for their further lives. Analyses in this study have shown differences in gender roles, but we must take much more efforts to reach more egalitarian share of responsibilities. We must include the aspects of gender role in the curriculums in kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools. It is important to educate young generations, from little kids, that sharing responsibilities between both genders lead to more happy and satisfied live among families and in the society.


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