Read the passage carefully and answer the following questions:
Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden are, according to the World Economic Forum, the most gender-equal countries in the world, while Denmark is in 14th place. Iceland has been named the most gender-equal in the world for 11 years running. Strong economic and work participation, together with political empowerment, has led many to see the Nordic countries as a “gender equality utopia”. However, behind women participation statistics and progressive policies, gender stereotypes prevail, particularly in the workplace, and women in the region say that there is still a lot of work to be done.
A recent report by intergovernmental forum the Nordic Council of Ministers found that, whereas Nordic governments’ policies have contributed to reducing the income disparities between men and women, financial gender equality is far from a reality yet. Occupational segregation still exists across the region’s industries and sectors and “social norms continue to restrict occupational choices”, the study points out. This gender segregation is more pronounced in Stem industries, which in turn is linked to a segregation in education on these subjects
Gabriele Griffin, professor of gender research at the University of Uppsala, says that closer examination of the statistics about gender equality in Nordic countries shows that most of the people who believe it has already been achieved are men, whereas women are more sceptical. Griffin says that there is still a rooted stereotype of technology being a male field and humanities and medicine being female. Progressive legislation and policy have not prevented the continuation of gender stereotypes.
The modern concept of gender equality has its foundations in the postwar welfare state. In Sweden, it was motivated by the need for more women in the workforce after the Second World War, explains Jenny Björklund, associate professor of gender studies at the University of Uppsala. During the 1960s and 1970s, the feminist movement demanded that the social democratic government introduce childcare to allow women to have full-time jobs. Men were also encouraged to take care of the family. “There’s this dual-earner/dual-carer ideal that Swedish gender equality is based on,” says Björklund.
Policies in Sweden have since then focused on facilitating that work-family balance. However, the expectations on women to be full-time workers, self-sacrificing mothers and still have leisure time have put unrealistic pressure on this ideal. Expectations on men are not as high, and Björklund says that fathers can get away with being less caring than mothers - an idea underpinned by traditional stereotypes and middle-class values.
Furthermore, the ideal of gender equality has been made a key element of a white and middle-class “Swedishness” - a national trait hijacked by far-right political parties promoting anti-immigration policies, says Björklund. These parties stereotype the immigrant woman as “less gender-equal” and repressed, and present immigrant men as patriarchal and aggressive, diverting attention away from the issues still at stake. Professor Griffin adds that this rising conservatism in Sweden has led to a liberalisation of discourses that are in many ways discriminatory, where it becomes acceptable to say that gender equality has gone too far.
Q. Which of the following statements CANNOT be inferred from the passage concerning the Nordic regions?
I. Progressive policies have not addressed the presence of gender stereotypes in the workplace.
II. Competition among women has exacerbated the income gap between men and women.
III. Occupational gender segregation has led to segregation in education on major subjects.
IV. Social norms discourage women from taking up certain occupations.