Gender Diversity in Swedish and Finnish Forest Industry Companies : Challenges and Enablers

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Title: Gender Diversity in Swedish and Finnish Forest Industry Companies : Challenges and Enablers
Author: Baublyte, Gintare
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Forest Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Metsäekonomia ja markkinointi
Forest Economics and Marketing
Skogsekonomi och marknadsföring
Abstract: Gender diversity in the workforce describes the equal representation of men and women in terms of ratio. Raising importance of the concept due to changing societal norms has allowed researchers to explore the mostly positive effect gender diversity, especially in leadership level, has on a company’s performance. Despite all the benefits, women in the forest-based sector are still underrepresented. This study aims to understand the underlying reasons for female underrepresentation in the forestry sector and to identify solutions to improve the situation. The study explored the barriers and enablers that hindered or supported female career development in the forestry industry and investigated possible solutions in light of sector’s future goals. In-depth elite interviewing was selected as the method of data collection. Ten interviews with senior level female leaders of seven forestry companies in Finland and Sweden were conducted face-to-face or over the phone. The qualitative content analysis of data identified most common barriers faced by women in their careers: a) discrimination, exclusion, and stereotyping due to masculine company culture, b) balancing work and family due to inflexible working hours and lack of remote work possibilities. Moreover, it recognised the importance of competence development and support systems as the enabling aspects of women careers in the industry. In addition to further understanding gender effect in the forestry sector, the study allowed to look into the future of the sector through the eyes of female leaders. The findings of the study are in line with previous research that identified the career advancement barriers and enablers in other industries. However, culture-specific issues posing a challenge to female career development and promoting exclusion, such as sauna and hunting traditions, were identified. Additionally, the importance of a personal support system was highlighted in the study. The critical role of the forestry sector and the bioeconomy in the sustainable global future was recognised by all study participants. The ability of forestry companies to adapt to future needs and to become a part of modern society will require them to rethink old concepts, modernise the image and allow for a more diverse company culture to foster in all organisational levels.
Subject: Gender diversity
forest industry
corporate sustainability

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