Education

Even the Prime Minister of Norway has been mansplained to

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC; Member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, speaking at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 23, 2018.Copyright by World Economic Forum / Mattias Nutt

Erna Solberg, right, on the Davos stage with Christine Lagarde Image: World Economic Forum

Ceri Parker
Previously Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

She’s the Prime Minister of Norway, responsible for five million people and a GDP of over $400 billion.

But even Erna Solberg has been “mansplained” to. It’s not a term she used herself, but in an interview at Davos, the politician described an experience early in her career that will make many women wince gently in recognition.

“I have met a lot of people who have maybe underestimated you, because you were a young girl in politics at the time,” she said.

“I remember I was at a committee of finance in parliament, and one of the CEOs of a large banking organisation was trying to tell me, like a child, in a very child-like way, how the interest rate market functions, and then the leader of the committee leaned over and said, she’s got the highest-level education in the committee.”

Solberg is one of a panel of seven women, including the CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, and Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, who are chairing Davos. However, the broader context for women in power is grim: the number of women in national parliaments worldwide is 23%, while in the US, only 6% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

“I think you need to have more women: the more women you get the more natural it gets,” Solberg said. “You have to discuss things like #metoo, you have to discuss sexual harassment, you have to discuss how power is used between people … The biggest thing we have to understand is this is not about women and men, this is about using the whole talent of society.”

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