Yes, women make up 45% of the Swedish parliament compared to a paltry 18% in the U.S Congress. And, yes, Swedish women are more likely to be in the labor force than their American counterparts. (Most of the data that follows comes from the 2012 OECD report “Closing the Gender Gap”). But the difference in labor force participation is not dramatic, and in most respects, Swedish women behave much as sisters do in the U.S.
Like Americans, Swedish women work substantially fewer hours than men; they are 2 times as likely to be part timers. They are the vast majority of social workers, teachers, and child care workers and a small minority of scientists (PDF) and CEO’s (PDF). In fact, Sweden’s labor market is among the most sex segregated (PDF) in the world and their wage gap shows it. Mothers take in only about 20% as men, much the same as in the United States.
The results in other countries committed to gender role busting are much the same. Iceland has been crowned the most gender equal country in the world by the World Economic Forum (PDF) every year since 2009. They provide many of the same supports as Sweden. So does Norway, third on the WEF list and famous as the first country to institute a 40% female quota in corporate boardrooms. Women in both countries are well represented in parliament—about 40%. Yet the ladies still work fewer hours than their male counterparts and they are two times as likely to be part timers. They remain segregated in more traditionally “female” occupations. Their mommy wage gap? About the same as Sweden and the U.S.