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Gender-neutral vocational titles – Want to have gender-neutral vocational titles in the state

On Monday, Minister for Culture and Equality Trine Skei Grande (V) will maintain her statement on gender equality policy in the Storting.

In the debate that follows Tuesday, Gry Haugsbakken (Ap) and Anette Trettebergstuen (Ap) make proposals to expel "man's titles," and provide gender-neutral vocational titles in all state-owned enterprises.

– It is absurd that a woman who, for example, wants to become police chief (sheriff) or municipal (councilor) at the same time has to obtain a "title of man". Gender-specific titles have expired and it is time for them to change, says Trettebergstuen for the Dagbladet.

– A lot to say about choosing the study

Ap-peaks believe that gender neutral titles are a simple step in correcting the distorted gender balance at the management level in the government sector.

Initially, they want the Storting to clear positions for which they have direct responsibility. The Ombudsman should be replaced by the Civil Ombudsman and the Ombudsman of the Armed Forces should be replaced by the Ombudsman for the defense, states the proposal.

At the same time, they urge the government to offer gender neutral positions in all state enterprises, and that this should happen in cooperation with the parties in the labor market.

Already in 2010, the Ombud of equality left and requested neutral gender titles. The ombudsman was also on the list this time, along with other health nurses and the national mediator, who has now been moved to a health nurse and state brokerage.

– As a representative, I challenge everyone to think about those stereotypes we say with the use of old-fashioned titles. Norway has one of the most gender-segregated labor markets in Europe. It is not because of these titles, but I believe that language is power, and it would be wise not to include traditional gendered denominations in the traditional roles of society, so the Ombud of Equality, Sunniva Ørstavik told ANB at the time.

– When you look at the study catalog and think about which study you are going to do, it will be a bit more for a boy to apply for a study to become a "sister," "mother," or "host." Or girls being "man". We already know that, and so we have already changed a lot, but it makes it even more foolish not to clean up what's left, says Libak.

– important signal

In recent years, many have argued that changing gender specific titles, but little has happened so far. In March of last year, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization presented a proposal for a new municipal law, in which they made a strong appeal to change the name of the main administrative manager of the municipality, from the councilor to the municipal director.

Local Government and Modernization Minister Monica Mæland believed that the councilor's title was imprecise and outdated, given that there are many executive women across the country who are called as men through their position.

A survey carried out by Kommunal Rapport shortly after the presentation of the proposal showed great skepticism about the proposal among local politicians. 53 percent definitely answered no.

"Do you think we'll see some of the same reactions here?"

– My impression is that most people agree with the principle that titles should be gender neutral, but that it can be difficult to find good new names. But the implementation of gender equality policies is often difficult without impeding us, says Trettebergstuen.

"Some will probably think this is a file case. To them I'd say: Well, but if it's not so dangerous then should not it be a problem to change too? Furthermore, I would like to protest that this is not important. Professional titles play a role and signal what is expected in that role. We want the best to do the work equally accessible for both sexes.

Get support from the Language Council

It is the head of the Language Council, Åse Wetås, that the Language Council generally calls men and women in the workplace to be referred to in the same way and believes that it is an important gender equality measure.

SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL: Åse Wetås, Director of the Language Council, believes that the proposal is a good idea. Photo: Language Council / Moment Studio
SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL: Åse Wetås, director of the Language Council, believes the proposal is a good idea. Photo: Language Council / Moment Studio
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I think the proposal is a good idea. Language is power and transmits attitudes. And if the titles convey that certain professions are male or female professions, this tells us something different from today's reality. Gender-neutral titles are a good tool for achieving gender balance in recruitment in several different sectors, she says.

– Many say that these changes are not necessary, but it is surprisingly quick to change the titles until they are incorporated into the daily language. There has been a lot already here – not long ago we mentioned teachers like Miss or since the national broker became the national mediator. So working on it is smart.

– Why do we see this opposition in some cases, as we saw when the Minister of Local Government and Modernization proposed to change the councilor to the municipal director?

– It's about the habit. In addition, linguistically we are addictive, and the longer we use a word or a term, the less willing we are to change it. The councilman's title is certainly one that can be changed when there are so many women professing this kind of position. There, the manager could be another option.

She points out that it is important for the academic communities in question to be heard in such processes, so that they immediately join in the change and use it. They should not try to be invaded and get a title they do not recognize.

To exemplify how "artificial" these male titles may seem, since we have become accustomed to an increasing number of gender-neutral titles, she uses the ombudsman as an example, which has a gender neutral title ever since it was introduced.

– "The Children's Ombudsman" sounds strange because we are accustomed to the opposite. It would have been totally unthinkable to replace the title ombudsman for this.

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