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Blog for LSE Business Review

I recently wrote a blog for LSE Business Review, together with Roosa Kohvakka. The blog is based on our (co-authored with Maria Törnroos) article “The Institutionalised Undervaluation of Women’s Work: The Case of Local Government Sector Collective Agreements”, published 2018 in Work, Employment and Society. Read the blog below.

The institutionalised undervaluation of women’s work: what can we do about it?

Equal pay is often viewed as a fundamental marker of gender equality. As a target, it is also notoriously difficult to achieve. Despite a variety of policy measures, including equal pay legislation, adopted to promote equal pay, the gender pay gap persists around the globe. Recent equal pay disputes include the ones in private sector organisations, such as Tesco and the BBC, but also disputes in public sector organisations, such as the Birmingham and Glasgow local governments. Similar issues exist in Nordic countries, including Finland, which are otherwise known as model countries for gender equality.

We argue that one of the main contributing factors behind the gender pay gap is the undervaluation of women’s work, which has become institutionalised within the structures of labour market practices, such as collective bargaining. For equal pay, we must acknowledge the monetary value of feminised work and work done by women. Continue reading.

Jenny+ on women and money

I recently appeared on TV, in Jenny+. The episode “Raha ei tule kiltin tytön luo” (roughly translates as “Money does not come to nice girls”), discussed economic questions relevant for women such as investing, cost of parental leave, equal pay and undervaluing feminized work. Watch the whole episode (in Finnish) here!


Jenny + 2

My Academy of Finland postdoctoral project is about to start!

A year ago, I wrote a successful application for the Academy of Finland. Very soon, on September 1st, I will start my own postdoctoral research project called  Neoliberalizing Welfare State Employment: Ideology, Institutional Agency, and Gendered Labour Market Outcomes (2018-2021). I’m so proud, and so excited!To offer an idea of what I’m going to study, I will share an extended abstract of the project.


Crisis can form a momentum for the adoption of new ideas and reformulation of policy. This is what happened in Finland, when the economic crisis created an opportunity for institutional actors to formulate and implement neoliberal reforms and policies. These include large-scale societal reforms, such as the Competitiveness Pact, Social Services and Regional Government (SOTE) Reform and Decentralization of the Finnish collective bargaining system. Each of these reforms has clear and drastic implications for women in the Finnish labour market, many of whom work for the welfare state in jobs and sectors that are now subjected to intensification, budget cuts, privatization and renegotiation of working conditions.

While neoliberalism, the effects of financial crises and austerity on gender equality have been studied, the proposed project differs from earlier studies through its specific focus on welfare state employment, collective bargaining and gender pay equity. The case studies, (i) the Competitiveness Pact, (ii) Social Services and Regional Government (SOTE) Reform and (iii) Decentralization of the Finnish collective bargaining system were chosen based on their topicality, large-scale gendered effects, and the neoliberal rhetoric that was used for arguing their necessity and importance. The three key processes of neoliberalization, studied via these case studies, are (i) marketization, (ii) privatization and (iii) decentralization.

As a methodology, a narrative approach will be utilized. This approach maps the starting point, key events, actors, the nature of processes connecting events, underpinning social values, political goals and conclusion for the event studied. Another theoretical and methodological approach used in this study is a feminist institutional approach, which analyses formal and informal institutions. In addition, a feminist analysis of the role of agency in institutional change will be used.

The study offers several major contributions to the current scholarship on neoliberalization, institutional agency and change, welfare state employment and gendered implications of the neoliberal reforms on women’s labour market situation and equal pay. This study also uses and further develops the concept of wages as macro-political, which sets wage determination and equal pay in the broader political and macro-economic policy context. These contributions will have both scientific and societal relevance, in Finland and internationally.

Our article in thematic issue of WES

Academic publishing processes are notoriously slow. This article, the first version of which appeared in my thesis in 2016, and which I started to write in 2015 already, was finally included in an issue of Work, Employment and Society, after a wait of more than a year. It was first published online in 2017 but had to wait for its turn to be included in an issue. But never mind, here it is, in a thematic issue of WES on gender inequality at work! I’m so proud!

The article, called The Institutionalised Undervaluation of Women’s Work: The Case of Local Government Sector Collective Agreements, is co-authored with my brilliant collegues Maria Törnroos and Roosa Kohvakka.

Here’s the abstract:

This article analyses the role of collective agreements in institutionalising and legitimising the undervaluation of work conducted by women. The undervaluation of women’s work has been identified as one of the main causes of the gender pay gap. Despite this, it continues to escape many of the policy measures on gender pay equity that focus on establishing wage discrimination. The Finnish local government sector provides an interesting case for research on undervaluation, as it has several collective agreements and several wage determination systems for different employee groups. However, a local authority is a single employer, and is obliged by law to treat all employees equally. Although the processes of wage determination vary across different national contexts, institutionalised undervaluation is very likely among highly feminised jobs and occupations worldwide. This article sees wages as social practices that reflect and are shaped by institutional, societal and historical contexts.

If you would like to read the entire paper but don’t have access, feel free to contact me!

Kodin Kuvalehti 13.6.2018: Tutkija Paula Koskinen Sandberg: ”Naisten palkat säädettiin tahallaan alemmiksi”


Photo: Amanda Aho

”Työnantajasta on kiusallisempaa maksaa pientä palkkaa miehille kuin naisille”, sanoo tutkija Paula Koskinen Sandberg. Hän on mukana Ei leikkirahaa -kansanliikkeessä, joka ajaa palkankorotusta lastentarhanopettajille.

Nykyään usein väitetään, että naisten ja miesten palkkaero johtuu vain yksilöiden valinnoista työmarkkinoilla. Tämä ei pidä paikkaansa.

Esimerkiksi: Vuonna 1945 valtioneuvosto teki palkkasääntelypäätöksen, jossa asetettiin ohjepalkat kaikille aloille. Naisen palkan piti olla 70 prosenttia miehen palkasta. Ei enempää eikä vähempää. Pidettiin itsestään selvänä, että naisen työ on vähemmän arvokasta kuin miehen.

Ennen tätä palkkasääntelyä naisten palkat olivat vielä huonommat. Päätös oli voimassa kymmenisen vuotta. Lue koko juttu täältä.

Lastentarhanopettajien palkat, palkkakartelli ja #eileikkirahaa-kansanliike

(Written by Paula Koskinen Sandberg, published in Politiikasta.fi)

Pääkaupunkiseudulla paljastui hiljattain palkkakartelli, jossa Helsinki, Espoo ja Vantaa olivat sopineet, etteivät kilpaile lastentarhanopettajien palkoilla. Samaan aikaan kun kunnat pitävät palkkoja tietoisesti alhaalla, kunnissa on pula lastentarhanopettajista ja satoja työpaikkoja täyttämättä.

Julkinen sektori on tyypillisesti profiloitunut kohtuullisen rehtinä työnantajana. Tähän imagoon uutisointi palkkakartellista iski särön ja aiheutti laajamittaista kritiikkiä.

Uutinen palkkakartellista ravisteli yleistä käsitystä palkkojen määräytymisen perusteista. Kävi ilmi, että naisenemmistöisten tehtävien palkat eivät suinkaan ole muotoutuneet matalammiksi markkinoilla, vapaassa kilpailussa työvoimasta. Uutinen palkkakartellista paljasti rakenteet sekä toimijat, jotka tietoisesti alihinnoittelevat naisten tekemää työtä ja pitävät palkat alhaalla. Lue lisää.