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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Persistent norms and the #MeToo effect in Swedish forestry education

Grubbstrom, Ann; Powell, Stina


This study focuses on the persistence of gender inequality in Swedish forestry education. The many strategic documents stand in contrast to the experienced inequalities depicted in the forest sector's #MeToo movement. Both #slutavverkat and the open letter, written by female students, describe harassment and sexist behaviour. Theories about the culture of silence and bystander behaviour - are used to analyse the continuation of the norms that make harassment possible. Through an analysis of focus groups and interviews, we identify mechanisms that allow for the continuation of gender inequality. It is shown that strong traditions and hierarchical relations between students have contributed to the continuation of the culture of masculine domination. This culture has been allowed to flourish in hidden arenas such as the student union and social media, often in the form of sexist jokes that have been tolerated. Leadership at different levels has formulated measures to promote gender equality, but at the same time has failed to hear and react sufficiently to discrimination. This has in turn contributed to women's silence. #slutavverkat and the open letter have led to increased awareness, but remaining challenges include the barriers that prevent bystanders from acting in a more prosocial way.


Forestry education; #MeToo; gender equality; masculine culture; bystanders

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2020, Volume: 35, number: 5-6, pages: 308-318