Are quotas the way to break the glass ceiling?

Progress for Women in Norway, but a Long Way to Go –

This is a link to a story about female quotas for corporate boards in Norway.  Quotas are a big topic of discussion in Europe, and in Dagens Nyheter today, there were new figures that showed the number of Swedish women on boards hasn’t moved much in the past year, though the fear of quotas is still driving the numbers up over the long haul.

I wrote about this topic for Quartz a few months ago.  This is from near the end:

What seems to set Sweden apart—both in its achievements and in the frustrations over a lack of progress—is the fierce commitment from broad swathes of the population towards equality.

So even when the country is breaking thousands of years of tradition in getting men to take a quarter of parental leave, it feels stuck because it’s not changing fast enough. Haas brings up a Swedish phrase translated as “in principle and in practice” that is often mentioned in situations like this.

But it is this very commitment that has brought women so far in the Swedish public sector, and that drives women like Blomquist to fight for equality. She doesn’t want to wait 52 years for corporate gender balance. She sees the issue as key to small Sweden competing in a globalized 21st century.

yes, men are capable of packing snacks and vacuuming

I am a momentum father and housekeeper.  What I mean by this is that I am perfectly good at all the little things that need doing every day to make the family run smoothly – getting the bag together, dressing the children properly, keeping track of the food, vacuuming.

But I have to work into shape.  I need to build that momentum.  I do not just have it.

I am, after all, a guy.  And I am not culturally programmed to pack small bags of snacks.

It is, however, not a question of inherited skills, of simply being a man.  I don’t buy that.

Not one bit.

I argue that it is about expectations and practice.

I got into practice during my first leave in 2008.  I am less in practice now but it is coming back fast.

Over at the new parenting site, Rick Suvalle (who blogs under I Peed On My Kid!) wrote a whole entry on how men cannot multitask, how he basically screws up all the daily tasks of Daddyland.

Every dad I’ve ever spoken to is exactly like me. They can’t do anything but play with their kids when it’s their turn to watch them, unless it’s watching TV at the same time. Of course being a stay-at-home dad requires more than just playing Polly Pockets and watching Yo Gabba Gabba on an infinite loop. There’s laundry to be done. Dishes to be washed. Floors to be swept. The list goes on. And on. And on. I actually have an actual list my wife gives me, but it doesn’t help. Without fail, if I’m watching my kids and I try and do anything else, I will mess something up.

What I suspect (besides a good schtick for a blog)  is a lack of confidence on old Rick”s part, to go with some serious soul crushing gatekeeping by his wife.

Some advice, dude.  Take control of the house.  You shop.  You clean.  On your standards.  There will be mistakes.  Learn from them.

What is the worst that is going to happen?  You end up at McDonald’s a couple of times.  A kid smells a little like pee for an hour or two.


It is all about momentum, not testosterone.

And you can still watch football and play video games and hunt deer with rocks (since this is apparently our only natural skill).

Yep, I am off to track me some elk in the winter night right now.

And I have my little bags of snacks all ready …

tall girls play basketball to a new cheer

I took NK to a Solna Vikings basketball game this afternoon. We saw the women play, not because I took my daughter but because the women play in the afternoon, the men play in the evenings. She has taken to throwing our basketball off the couch, barely missing her little brother’s head, so I thought it would be good for her to see how the “tall girls,” as I put it, really play.

We walked through the afternoon dark to Solnahallen. There were only about a hundred or so people in attendance, and they did not make much noise. The press table was empty. There was the requisite loud music.

I am fascinated by minor sports here in Sweden, across Europe actually. I just read a pretty good book by an American guy who played in Greece, Spain and Russia, among other places. Sweden is levels below that, but, still most teams have a couple Americans on the roster, a few fans, some minor TV deal for the championship series and uniforms covered with sponsorships by the local auto body shop.

The Solna woman have been the dominant team in the league this decade and you could tell by the uniform, covered with sponsors. Their opponents, Umeå, had far less, though they did have an add for a travel agency right under the armpit. How do you negotiate that placement?

Umeå also had what sounded like an Irish coach, and I was proud when NK said she could tell he spoke English. He was loud and positive and all over the place. The Solna coach was a tall, stern woman all in black who stalked the sidelines making dramatic hand motions, and, frankly, intimidated even me in the stands. Solna was the better team too – more disciplined, better shooters, in better shape. But I ended up rooting for Umeå, seemingly congenitally attracted to the underdog.

The quality of the basketball was hard to pinpoint. The women all had pro-level size, meaning they were really tall and really strong. But I have to put the level of play somewhere around my graduate school intramural team. This is not the insult that it sounds like. We had three very serious, fringe European pro-players on that team, won the grad school league, and only just lost the overall Columbia championship to the undergrad winners, who were all guys who had quit the varsity, plus a really good woman. I was that extra fifth guy with glasses and two knee braces wearing hiking boots (really, my basketball shoes had fallen apart) trying to play good defense and run around on offense and not get passed the ball and not get embarrassed.

But back to Solna, where the best thing I got out of the game (we only saw half because NK just announced we were going home) was a new cheer. Forget thundersticks and the wave. My daughter pulled a beater from a mixer out of her bag. She pointed it at the court and yelled, “BEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

Totally worked for me. You should get it going at the next game you go to. Imagine 50,000 people at Yankee Stadium tonight pulling beaters out of their pockets and yelling, BEEEEEEEEE. The other team would have no chance.