For women who Rock their Role in work and life

Archive for the tag “women breadwinners”

Is it easier for women to be breadwinners in Denmark than in the UK?

The guest blog is written by Rachael Sterrett, founder of Getting it write dk she works with companies in Denmark who wish to develop an international focus to their marketing.  Rachael moved to Denmark with her husband and two children in 2011 and started her own company last year.   

Rachael Sterrett

Rachael Sterrett, founder of Getting it write dk

“In Denmark it is not necessary to choose between job and children – it is possible to have both.” Kirstie Wild

In the UK as the number of female breadwinners increases significantly, there is intense debate around the challenges of managing “breadwinner status”, the need for better more cost-effective childcare and demands for more flexible working conditions for both men and women.

However, the social system already in place may put Danish women ahead of the game, facilitating an easier transition into new working roles. Denmark has had a head start on equality for many years and already has very generous maternity benefits, flexible working conditions and affordable high quality childcare.

Kirstie Wild, EU Science Funding Consultant at the Danish Institute for Technology moved to Denmark with her husband and 6 year old twins in December 2008.  Despite planning a career break in Denmark she soon realized that, “It was not necessary to choose job or children – it is possible to have both. The Danish work-life balance is so much better than in the UK.”

In my experience, the economy in Denmark is built on two incomes. There isn’t a term for “breadwinner”, as it is expected that both partners will be working. However, the working conditions and childcare provision also accommodate this. There is very little requirement for parents to attend school events during the day (sports days/nativity plays) alleviating the guilt felt by missing these events, and the stress spent trying to “make” them on time. Danish children are self-reliant from a very early age, with many going to school on their own from the age of 7, relieving parents of “school run” stress.

There is a high degree of self worth amongst Danish women and much less guilt. So what happens when Danish women, despite being equal, start to by-pass their men and earn more than their partners? In the last 15 years women’s share of top earners, the Golden Percentile (gyldne procent), has doubled to 18%. The number of women starting their own businesses has increased to 33% and Denmark is ranked 7 overall for gender equality in the Global Gender Gap Report 2012 (with the UK at 18).

Whilst there is some discussion in the Danish media on the impact of “TopKvinder” (top female earners), there is also notable discussion on the challenge it poses for men. Kenneth Reinicke from Roskilde University is often quoted in articles about gender roles from the male perspective. There is also growing interest in how relationships are affected by changes in earnings. Recent research, In Sickness and in Wealth published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin concluded that Danish men were more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction when their wives earned marginally more than them, and that women who earned more than their husbands suffered from increased anxiety and insomnia.

So when all things are equal, even in Denmark, the last taboo of women earning more than their partners can still be threatening for some couples remaining hidden from public view behind the closed doors of the bedroom.

Rachael Sterrett, Getting it write dk.

“Jenny has been instrumental in keeping me motivated and focused on my business through monthly coaching sessions during the long winter months”.


Feel free to contact me on +44 (0) 844 776 4744 or email or

I am Jenny Garrett, Executive Coach, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy and author or Rocking Your Role – the how to guide to success for female breadwinners. Find out more about me, my programmes, speaking engagements and training at and sign up for my newsletter


Women breadwinners could save Japan by Akane Odake

I am so pleased to feature this guest blog from Akane Odake. Akane is a Japanese journalist who attended one of my talks and has kindly written an enlightening blog on attitudes to Women Breadwinners in Japan.

Akane Odake

Akane Odake Japanese Journalist

I was really surprised by the fact that in the UK men now make up nearly 10% of those who care for children while their partner goes to work, a result of rise in female breadwinners. In Japan, where I am from, such cases are extremely rare. (I could not find an exact number, and seems like this kind of data may not even exist.)

Japanese gender equality is sadly low; according to the latest Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it ranks 101 out of 135 countries.

One of the many reasons for this low rank is due to the lack of women in the workforce. Because of insufficient childcare, long working hours, and traditional views on gender roles, nearly 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after having their first child. As a result, the pay gap between men and women remains huge in Japan.

Gender Pay Gap Japan

Graph showing the gender pay gap in Japan

I remember that when I was working in Tokyo, there were several working mothers at my office. Generally, their husbands do not have much time to take care of their children, since they work crazily long hours. As a result, most of the burden of childcare was on the working mothers. They go to kindergartens in the morning to drop their children off, come to work, go back to kindergartens around 5pm to pick them up and then take care of their children alone until their husbands come home around 9 or 10pm, continuing the work the mothers could not finish at the office. They seemed to be super busy all the time. Looking at them, I thought it was impossible for me to keep my job and raise children at the same time.

However, there is a sign of change, or to be more exact, there is a need for change, too. As Japan has the world’s fastest ageing society and is rapidly losing its working population, people have started to realise that women’s participation in the workforce is necessary to boost the economy. In fact, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of IMF, told reporters “women could actually save Japan”. Of course, there is so much to be done to make it possible, such as better pay, a more flexible work culture, better childcare, changing traditional view on gender roles, just to list a few.

Coming from that kind of country, attending Jenny’s book reading and being surrounded by so many female breadwinners was like finding myself in a world of science fiction. At the same time, it was really refreshing to know that if the situation allows, women can keep working and make money like men do. (Yes, the belief of “women are not good at business” is still widespread in Japan…) I really hope that like me, more Japanese women can receive a positive influence from British female role models and help move Japan toward progress in the near future.

You can contact Akane on

Or feel free to contact me on +44 (0) 844 776 4744 or email

I am Jenny Garrett, Executive Coach, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy and author or Rocking Your Role – the how to guide to success for female breadwinners. Find out more about me, my programmes, speaking engagements and training at and sign up for my newsletter

The ‘white elephant’ in the room?

I came across this video clip of the UK Show Loose Women on the subject of Women Breadwinners that took place in February 2010 and thought I’d share it with you.

Just watching the video clip highlights the emotional reaction women can have on the subject and that it is a very different experience for different people.  What stood out for me is that I felt that they were underplaying it’s significance. (this will happen when you try to tackle a subject with only 5 minutes, I guess) However, their conclusion that being a breadwinner wife shouldn’t be a problem was for me inadequate.

Just because something shouldn’t be a problem in modern society, doesn’t mean it isn’t!

In the clip, Kate Thornton summarises one of the biggest issues for female breadwinners, not talking about the ‘white elephant’ in room. I am not sure if the elephant needs to be white, but it is definitely something that is taboo or left unsaid.  Zoe Tyler says that she has always paid for everything breadwinner or not, this confused me, why? Carolyn McGiffin’s makes the point that we are all equal. This is in my opinion naive, we will hold different power in our relationships at different times, how we use it is what matters!

I would love to hear you reaction to it. It’ only four and a half minutes long, you can view it here

I also found these two tiny videos that provided a very literal description of the role of breadwinner, see them here – video one and video two.

Enjoy the videos and have a great hump day.

My book Rocking Your Role – the ‘how to’ guide to success for Female Breadwinners, will be out in June 2012

If you want to chat, gain support and read the latest from other female breadwinners, join my Rocking Your Role LinkedIn Group

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