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Gender Equality and Quality of Life: A Norwegian Perspective.

Gullvg Holter, ystein ; Helge Svare & Cathrine Egeland (2009). Gender Equality and Quality of Life: A Norwegian Perspective. Oslo, The Nordic Gender Institute. http://home.online.no/~oeholter/sideb/GenderEqualityandQualityofLife2009.pdf#ID=892
Norway was recently ranked as number one in an international gender gap index (World Economic Forum). Developments in Norway are relevant for understanding how gender equality can be achieved. In order to find out more about men, women and gender equality, a representative survey was made in Norway in 2007, which was more detailed and comprehensive than earlier survey research. In this report we describe the results of the survey : the changing, uneven and partially conflicting gender equality developments among men and women today. The survey “Gender Equality and Quality of Life” (referred to as GEQL07 in this report) has a sample of 2,805 women and men, who answered a questionnaire with 350 questions and statements on gender equality in spring 2007. The response rate was 41 percent.

The study was financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality. The work was carried out by a project team composed in co-operation between the Nordic Gender Institute (NIKK) and the Work Research Institute (WRI). The team was led by ystein Gullvg Holter, NIKK, and included Helge Svare and Cathrine Egeland, WRI. The project commenced in the autumn of 2006, with data collection conducted by TNS Gallup during April-May 2007.

The project team was supervised by a broad-based reference group. The task of the team was to design a study of men and women on men’s attitudes to and understanding of gender equality in relationships, the family, working life and society. The study should also augment the knowledge base for a future. Despite a rather moderate response rate, now quite usual in this kind of survey (and a common problem), the sample seems to be fairly representative in the main matters discussed in this report (see Method appendix). Data was collected both by post and using a questionnaire answered on the internet.

The questionnaire for the data collection was structured around eight basic areas/phases of life:
4.Life in the household
5.Partner, choice of partner
6.Children and parents
7.Gender equality : experiences and attitudes
8.Health and quality of life

Within all these areas, questions were especially focused on gender equality issues. They were designed to highlight five different dimensions of gender equality, described below, as well as quality of life. This design made it possible not only to survey attitudes to equality, but also to study how these attitudes are connected to practices, and how attitudes and practices vary in relation to other circumstances, such as distribution of resources in married or co-habiting two-sex couples, social-psychological gender formation and gender equality in childhood and youth, in addition to ordinary background variables such as sex, age, socio-economical status and housing.

Gender research has, for a long time, focused on how men’s and women’s identities, situations in life, attitudes, etc. are constituted in mutual, dynamic interaction characterised by voiced and unvoiced negotiations and expectations, within a context of material and cultural structures which also ascribe men and women different social positions. Although, strictly speaking, starting as a follow-up of the 1988 survey of men, the new project was designed on the basis that women should be included. Therefore the study includes answers by women as well as by men, although the detail level regarding men is a bit higher.

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