Equal Workplaces

A study of the factors that counteract and benefit gender and ethnic equality between employees from different parts of the world in Swedish workplaces.

Swedish and international research shows that female employees, as compared to male ones, and foreign-born employees, as compared to native ones, tend to earn less in the same jobs and that the former groups have poorer chances of promotion. There are several strands of explanation for such inequality in previous research. A factor particularly focused in this project is social capital, i.e. the resources employees have access to through their social networks in their workplaces: who is friends with whom and what characterizes the relations between employees and their superiors. This kind of social capital is of great importance for an employee’s opportunities in the workplace.

The purpose of the study was to add to the knowledge of different kinds of inequalities at Swedish workplaces and to learn more about what benefits equality between female and male employees and between employees from different parts of the world. The project takes as its point of departure that inequality in working life is a problem and that equality is preferable. The study was conducted at a number of elderly care institutions in a major Swedish municipality. Mixed methods, including a survey, individual interviews with assistant nurses, nursing assistants and their managers, as well as participant observation, were used.

Project start



Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)


Kristina Boréus  professor, political science, IBF (project manager)
Alireza Behtoui, professor, sociology, Södertörns högskola.
Anders Neergaard, professor, sociology, Linköpings universitet.
Soheyla Yazdanpanah, lecturer, Södertörns högskola.

Key words

Inequality, discrimination, racism, workplace, social capital, Sweden, inequality regime


Boréus, K., Neergaard, A. & Sohl, L. (red.) (2021) Ojämlika arbetsplatser. Hierarkier, diskriminering och strategier för jämlikhet. Nordic Academic Press (Open Access)

Behtoui, Alireza, Boréus, Kristina, Neergaard, Anders & Yazdanpanah, Soheyla (2020) 
"Why are careworkers from the global south disadvantaged? Inequality and discrimination in Swedish elderly care work", Ethnic and Racial Studies

Behtoui, A., Boréus, K., Neergaard, A., Yazdanpanah, S. (2017b). 
Att verka för jämlika arbetsplatser. En studie av jämlikhet och ojämlikhet mellan anställda i äldrevården [Populärvetenskaplig projektrapport]

Behtoui, A., Boréus, K., Neergaard, A., Yazdanpanah, S. (2017a). 
”Speaking up, leaving or keeping silent: Racialized employees in the Swedish elderly care sector”, Work, Employment and Society, 31(6): 954-971.

Behtoui, A., Boréus, K., Neergaard, A., Yazdanpanah, S. (2016).
“Motstånd – valet mellan protest, sorti och tystnad för invandrade och infödda anställda i äldrevården”. I Holmqvist, Margaretha (red.) Makt och inflytande i arbetslivet. Stockholm: Premiss förlag. [Populärvetenskapligt antologikapitel]

other links

Debattartikel i Sydsvenskan 2021-09-12

Debattartikel i Sydsvenskan 13 oktober 2018

Last modified: 2022-12-06