Researcher charges that female president has not ultimately furthered cause of gender equality
According to Jaana Kuusipalo, a lecturer in women's studies at Jyväskylä University, having a female head of state has to some extent actually put a brake on the promoting of gender equality in Finland.
The Finns have seen a woman at the head of the Bank of Finland, a woman as Speaker of Parliament, a woman holding down the Foreign Minister's job, and even - albeit very briefly - we witnessed the mould-breaking 1-2 of a female President and a female Prime Minister in 2003, so some might ask what could be wrong.
Kuusipalo argues persuasively that people assume the gender issue has been resolved when the President is a woman, as if the fight is won and nobody needs to keep the flame burning any longer.
And yet, the above exceptions aside, women in politics still tend to be limited to certain specific areas and tasks: social policy, education, culture - the portfolios that are generally regarded as being at the lighter end of the scale.
"If women stay in those corralled areas, their careers progress. If they make a move towards the more masculine territory of economic or fiscal policy, problems arise."
This becomes apparent from Kuusipalo's research, which involved interviews with 14 female ministers from the governments of Esko Aho (Centre Party) and Harri Holkeri (National Coalition Party) in the 1990s.
She claims the situation has not changed materially since then. The most important cabinet positions, for instance the Finance Minister's job, are always taken by men. And the collective bargaining discussions - carried out by a tripartite grouping of government, employers, and union representatives - have a very strong men-only stamp about them.
Tarja Halonen's role as President may not have raised the glass ceiling so very much, but in one sense her earlier foreign affairs career, in the late 1990s, has improved matters for women: in foreign policy questions women now have a greater voice than they did earlier, Kuusipalo suggests.
Her interview study throws up the observation that the political grind awakens women to a gender gap they may previously have been less certain of. Many female ministers become supporters of quotas for women after first thinking they were redundant.
"They believe that they can manage if only they do their work competently. The opinions change when they run into gender obstacles in their active career."
Many of the women who came into politics in the 1970s regarded their gender as an obstacle that should be air-brushed into the background. The gist of the argument was that the women should get men to forget that they were women after all. A politician is, quite naturally, a man. And women had to accommodate to this fact.
On the other hand, being a woman did have its advantages. Those interviewed stated that they thought they performed well at the ballot-box because of their sex. It was only after they had reached a position of power that the male-driven inertia set in.
Kuusipalo now fears that the gender equality issue may be run over by the clamourings of other minority groups.
"Women are lumped together with other marginalised minorities and people tend to think that after all is said and done the women do have it a lot better than immigrants."