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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Women in forestry in the early twentieth century - new opportunities for young women to work and gain their freedom in a traditional agrarian society

Ostlund, Lars; Obom, Alexander; Lofdahl, Amanda; Rautio, Anna-Maria;

Abstract

Logging and forestry have traditionally been seen as a purely masculine sphere. The aim of this study is to analyze women's introduction into and situations in the forestry sector in twentieth century northern Sweden. We interviewed 30 women who worked as cooks between the 1930s and the 1960s, and examined written sources. We found that driving forces behind the emergence of a system involving forestry cooks included state investigations, rationalization of the forest sector, the effects of WW2, and overall modernization of society. Our informants were unmarried and young when they started working, and their introductions to the job were characterized by encouragement and pressure in their surroundings. They had prior knowledge of cooking, but few underwent formal training. They were, in most cases, hired by the forest workers, and portray the camps as egalitarian social systems. It is clear that the Swedish system was rather unusual internationally, and these women had a definite impact on modernizing a workspace far from cities and industries. For the women, the job entailed hardships, but also a sense of freedom. Conceivably, a seed of women's liberation in twentieth century Sweden was planted by these thousands of young women working in the northern forests.

Keywords

Cooks; logging; forest history; gender; boreal forest

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research

2020, volume: 35, number: 7, pages: 403-416
Publisher: TAYLOR AND FRANCIS AS

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Öbom, Alexander
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Löfdahl, Amanda
County Administrative Board of Västerbotten
Rautio, Anna-Maria
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG5 Gender equality
SDG8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
SDG10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Gender Studies

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02827581.2020.1808054

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/107836