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Working in Norway: Is there a gender wage gap?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Working in Norway: Is there a gender wage gap?
Here's what you need to know about the gender pay gap in Norway. Pictured is a work meeting. Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Many describe Norway as a gender equality pioneer, but are women still paid less than men for doing the same job? 


Norway is often lauded for its progressive approach to the workplace and for being considered one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. 

The country has a broad set of legislation, which it frequently updates, to ensure parity between genders and other underrepresented groups in society. 

For example, Since 2004, state-owned company boards must be comprised of at least 40 percent women, with that rule being applied to publicly traded firms since 2008.

The government has moved to extend this rule further to apply to another 10,000-25,000 companies. Currently, women make up around 20 percent of boardrooms in Norway. 


Additionally, the Norwegian Gender Equality Act was aimed at reducing discrimination in Norway. Then in 2016, it was the first country globally to establish a gender equality ombud. 

So how does this all add up in terms of the gender pay gap? 

Unfortunately, for all the work Norway has done towards trying to end discrimination in the workplace (and society in general), men still get paid more than women for the same job. 

The World Economic Forum publishes an annual report on the state of men's and women's wages. In 2022, it found that Norway has a gender parity of 84.5 percent. 

This means that women in Norway get paid around 84.5 percent of what men earn. 

While this figure may be disappointing, Norway was one of the best-performing countries for gender pay parity in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. 

Only Iceland (90.8 percent) and Finland (86 percent) had a higher gender pay parity than Norway. 

Norway's national data agency, Statistics Norway (SSB), also keeps data on the gender wage gap. It found in 2022 that women earned an average of 88 percent of men's wages. This is up from 83.3 percent in 2001. 

Norway's gender wage gap explained

One of the reasons it said that men earned more than women on average was that men were overrepresented in the highest-paying jobs, bringing the average wage up overall. 

"An important reason why women, on average, earn less than men is that men are overrepresented among wage earners who have the highest salaries. There are, therefore, few women compared to men at the top of the distribution. Correspondingly, there are more women than men in the middle of the distribution," an earlier report on the gender pay gap reads. 


When the highest wage earners are removed from the equation, the pay gap in Norway is reduced from 87.9 percent to 96.2 percent. 

"When we remove the top 10 percent of salaries, the average salary for men drops considerably, while it does not for women. Among the jobs with the ten percent highest salaries, just under 30 percent are women. There are thus too few women at the top of the distribution for it to raise the average as much as it does for men," SSB writes. 

 When using a median wage, which doesn't get skewed by the presence of the highest and lowest earners, women earn 94.1 percent of what men do. 

Another explanation for the wage gap in Norway offered by Statistics Norway centres on where men and women choose to work. 

Men were more likely to be found in the private sector, where the highest-earning jobs were found- while 70 percent of women worked in the public sector.

Women in working and public life

Figures also point to women being underrepresented at the top level in both working and public life. Some 63 percent of management positions in Norway are held by men. When accounting for just the most senior and executive roles, women make up just over a quarter of senior management staff in Norway. 

While Norway's governemnt cabinet has a majority of women serving, just 34 percent of local mayors in Norway are women. Women also make up just 40 percent of municipal councillors in Norway.  


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