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In Sweden, according to Hwang (1987), fathers, like mothers, take parental leave during the first

year of the newborn children. Hallgren et al. (1999) stated that the Swedish fathers are strongly

encouraged by the society to take part in activities during pregnancy and birth. The involvement

of Swedish fathers in parenthood is supported by the parental-leave system introduced in the

middle of 1970s which, with further reforms, “enhance fathers‟ involvement in active parenting

and the provision of subsidized, high-quality public childcare enable women and men to combine

employment and parenthood” (Oláh & Bernhardt 2008, p. 1107). According to Oláh & Bernhardt

(2008), “Swedes also tend to think that both husband and wife should contribute to the household

income (higher than average) and that paid work is important for women‟s independence”

(p.1120). With regard to parenting, “men and women did not seem to differ in their views on

shared parenting, i.e., concerning parental responsibilities in everyday life, norms about how the

practical tasks with regard to childcare should be shared” (ibid, p. 1121).

Scholar Ulla Björnberg (2002) from Göteborg University stated in the Swedish family research

article Ideology and choice between work and care: Swedish family policy for working parents

that the paid parental leave and public and subsidized child care are the institutional contexts of

gender equality between men and women in the Swedish families. “Individual and mutual

responsibility for family subsistence was seen as necessary for gender equality to be

accomplished. Both parents were regarded as responsible for the care of children and for

domestic work” (ibid, p. 35). The current parental leave policy, according to Björnberg (2002), is

an ideological thinking that is based on social democratic thinking of the relationship between

family and state. “In Sweden, provision, socialization and care of children are regarded as

responsibilities to be shared between parents and the welfare state, supported by employers”

(ibid, p. 36).

2.8.2 Masculinity versus Femininity and Education

Masculinity and femininity in education describes the norms in the educational system and the

societies. Masculine or feminine culture guides teachers and students to behave correctly in

different circumstances. The key differences between masculine and feminine societies regarding

education are displayed in Table 12.

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Table 12 Key Differences between Feminine and Masculine Societies: Education (Hofstede

et al. 2010, p. 165).

Feminine Masculine

Average student is the norm; praise for weak


Best student is the norm; praise for excellent


Jealousy of those who try to excel. Competition in class; trying to excel.

Failing in school is a minor incident. Failing in school is a disaster.

Competitive sports are extracurricular. Competitive sports are part of the curriculum.

Children are socialized to be nonaggressive. Aggression by children is accepted.

Students underrate their own performance:


Students overrate their own performance: ego-


Friendliness in teachers is appreciated. Brilliance in teachers is admired.

Job choice is based on intrinsic interest. Job choice is based on career opportunities.

In how to characterize a good teacher, Gao & Watkins (2001) cited a study carried out by British

and Chinese secondary school students Jin & Cortazzi that “the Chinese students, however,

preferred the teacher to have deep knowledge, be able to answer questions, and be a good moral

model” (p. 446). In terms of teacher-student relationship, “the Chinese students considered their

relationship with a good teacher would be a friendly, warm one well beyond the classroom” (ibid,

p.446). According to Jin & Cortazzi (1998), Chinese teacher, the perception of the concept is

related to Confucian concept “ren” which can be translated into “something like human-

heartedness or love” (ibid, p.446). Jin & Cortazzi (1998) contended that all education ideas in

mainland China are based on Confucian principles and these principles include:

The high value placed on education by society; that learning involves reflection and

application; that hard work can compensate for lack of ability; that the teacher is a model

both of knowledge and morality; and the value that learning is a moral duty and studying

hard is a responsibility to the family. (Gao & Watkins 2001, p.446)

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