IN NUMBERS: Are women equally represented in Danish leadership roles?

Women currently comprise 43 percent of Denmark's members of parliament, and 35 percent of the current government. But the proportion of representation in leading business roles is lower.

IN NUMBERS: Are women equally represented in Danish leadership roles?
2019 file photo. Denmark currently has 76 female MPs, 43 percent of the total number of seats. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Following the election in November last year, the proportion of female MPs in the Danish parliament increased to 76 or 43.4 percent. That is the closest to equal representation in the history of the parliament according to a Statistics Denmark press release on March 8th.

The 43.4 percent of female MPs is 14 percent higher than at the election in 1987, when 39-7 percent of elected lawmakers were women.

“In 2022 we got the highest proportion of women ever in parliament. We can also see the same trend in people running for election to parliament, where 38.4 percent of candidates were women, the highest proportion seen thus far,” Statistics Denmark special consultant Annemette Lindhardt Olsen said.

Some 31 percent of candidates in 1987 were women, and the proportion varied between 27 percent and 33 percent until the 2015 election.

The proportion of female MPs elected in Denmark since 1987. Graphic: Statistics Denmark

Local governments show evidence of a similar trend, with 35.9 percent female representatives at municipalities at the last local elections in 2021, a 4 percent increase compared to 31.8 percent in 2009.

Elected boards at Regions, the authorities which administer health services regionally, reached equality at the 2021 election with 50.2 percent women elected, compared to 35.1 percent in 2009.


Women were first allowed to run for election in Denmark in 1915. Education Minister Nina Bang became the first female minister under Social Democrat Thorvald Stauning’s government in 1924.

Apart from 1924, governments remained exclusively the domain of men until 1947, when just 4.5 percent of the cabinet were women. That proportion only increased to over 20 percent by the late 1980s, but sped up in the 1990s with 37 percent female ministers under PM Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in 1993.

The highest proportion of female ministers was 48 percent, back in 2009 in Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s first spell as prime minister. The current government has 35 percent female ministers.

As for prime ministers: It took Denmark until 2011 to elect its first female prime minister, when Helle Thorning-Schmidt defeated Rasmussen. Current PM Mette Frederiksen, a Social Democrat like Thorning-Schmidt, is Denmark’s second female government leader and has won two elections.

The proportion of female directors at Danish companies since 2014. Graphic: Statistics Denmark

Company boards

Boardrooms at Danish companies continue to be relatively male-dominated. In 2021, some 81 percent of registered board members at Danish businesses were men. The percentage of men and women on Danish boards remained stable between 2014 and 2021.

“If we exclusively look at production companies, the proportion of women in boardrooms is highest at companies with over 250 employees – especially highly technological companies, where the proportion of women was 28 percent in 2021,” Statistics Denmark special consultant Kalle Emil Holst Hansen said.

Small and medium sized businesses have the lowest equality between men and women in boardrooms, he also said.

The proportion of female directors has increased slightly since 2014 but remains at a modest 16 percent, according to the data.

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Denmark reduces number of areas classed as ’parallel societies’

The number of underprivileged areas termed ‘parallel societies’ by the Danish government has fallen for the third consecutive year following an annual update.

Denmark reduces number of areas classed as ’parallel societies’

The updated list of ‘parallel societies’ and vulnerable housing areas was published by the Ministry of the Interior and Housing on Thursday.

The number of housing areas classed as parallel societies falls from 12 in 2021 to 10 in the new list.

Three areas were removed from the list (Aldersrogade and Tingbjerg/Utterslevhuse, both in Copenhagen, Agervang in Holbæk), while one was added (Askerød in Greve).

The number of ‘vulnerable housing areas’ (udsatte boligområder) and ‘redevelopment areas’ (omdannelsesområder) is also lower than on the 2021 list.

A ‘redevelopment area’ or omdannelsesområde is the new term replacing ‘hard ghetto’, used for areas which have been on the parallel societies list for five consecutive years.

The terms ‘parallel society’ and ‘underprivileged housing area’ have replaced ‘ghetto’ in the government’s official descriptions, after the latter word was scrapped because it was considered to be derogatory towards marginalised areas.

The lists are important because included areas can be subject to special treatment under Danish laws.

To qualify as ‘parallel societies’, housing areas of more than 1,000 people, where more than half are of “non-Western” origin, must fulfil two of four criteria.

Areas that fulfil the criteria are then required to take measures to combat parallel societies under a 2018 law originally titled the “Ghetto Law”.

The four criteria are: more than 40 percent of residents are unemployed; more than 60 percent of 39-50 year-olds do not have an upper secondary education; crime rates three times higher than the national average; residents have a gross income 55 percent lower than the regional average.

In addition to redevelopment obligations, areas on the list can be subjected to special treatment under the law, including stricter punishments for specified crimes and a requirement for small children to attend daycare.

READ ALSO: EU court to judge residents’ discrimination case against Danish government

The decline in the number of housing areas on the three lists is a positive development, according to Solveig Råberg Tingey, CEO of BL, an organisation representing subsidised housing associations in Denmark.

“The positive trend is the result of a lot of great local work over several years with efforts in relation to jobs and education and social schemes,” Tingey told news wire Ritzau.

“It’s very important that we continue this work in the coming years,” she said.

The list of underprivileged housing areas is updated every year on December 1st.