I truly think there’s something special about Finnish women and to really understand Finland and its people, you should understand our women.
Let’s start with statistics. Girls are likely to do better at school than boys. In fact, 53% of university students in Finland are women – and 64% of university students that graduate are women. Women are also more likely to do a PhD in Finland: 54.5% of PhD students are women.
So the girls are smart. They are also independendent because it’s intrinsic in our upbringing – individualism is highly valued. The Economist actually published this fantastic blog post about the Nordic welfare state and how the role of women has contributed to its success:
the family remains a central social institution in the Nordic countries, but it too is infused with the same moral logic stressing autonomy and equality. The ideal family is made up of adults who work and are not financially dependent on the other, and children who are encouraged to be as independent as early as possible.
Have a good think about it; have you met Finns abroad? Mostly girls, right? It’s no wonder really, they speak several languages and have already lived alone for several years. Some have boyfriends in Finland but they’re confident that their relationship will last even while they’re abroad – and it usually does. If someone has an amazing opportunity to go abroad and they’d refuse it because they’re dating… well that’s just crazy.
But back to basics. I rarely allow for someone else to carry my bag for me – it’s my stuff and since I’ve packed it I should be the one to carry it. Why whould some poor guy have to do it for me simply because of their sex?
Finnish women also tend to be rather strong – physically and mentally. When we moved to our current flat we had to carry a mattress upstairs. I had an Italian friend helping us and he was amazed how my flatmate – a relatively tiny blonde girl – was lifting it up the stairs the same as he was.
Whenever somebody needs help in lifting things or assembling furniture, they’re likely to call my sister. She’s beautiful, tall and could probably beat you in arm-wrestling any day.
But just wait if you try to pay for our dinner – the reaction is likely to be anything from disbelief to annoyance. Why should a man pay for a woman? I don’t need to be taken care of financially – I’m not inferior. I work and make money just the same as they do. There’s just no logic there.
After all this, it’s likely to be no surprise that Finland as a country is a bit of matriarchy. Our president is a woman. Our former prime minister was a woman (still no new government but let’s not get into that). 42.5% of our MPs are women (compared with a European average of about 19%), 61.5% of our MEPs are women.
As a result, Finnish women tend to be a bit bossy. For this I apologise. Especially to my Italian colleague who has to deal with it every day.
Now it would logically follow after this that I would write about Finnish men. Unfortunately I know very little about them. I rarely meet one.