Setting a Trend: Feminisation of the Commercial Bank Sector in Sweden, 1864-1975

Kajsa Holmberg, Maria Stanfors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When Stockholms Enskilda Bank hired two women in 1864, it was
presumably the first bank in the world to do so. The fashion of
hiring women gradually spread, and bank telling became femaledominated.
We describe and analyze this process, identifying three
periods in the feminization of the Swedish commercial bank
sector. Economic, institutional, technological, and cultural factors
were all instrumental in feminization; their relative importance
varied over time. During our study period, banking went through
radical changes, bringing it closer to ―women’s work‖; thus,
feminization proceeded without radical changes in social norms or
views on female labor. The commercial bank sector’s loss of status
as a male workplace began in the early twentieth century,
preceding feminization, rather than following it, and creating an
opening for women. Employers’ economic incentives were also
important in the feminization process; women made their
strongest advances during times when employers had strong
incentives to cut costs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness and Economic History On-Line
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History


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