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Despite this, the Church and its ministers are held in high esteem, and personal religious views are respected.

It is difficult to observe differences between believers and everyone else in everyday life, except perhaps that the former lead more abstemious lives.

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Finns love reading things written about them abroad, and visitors should not feel uncomfortable being asked repeatedly what they think of Finland.

However, although Finns are ready enough to criticize their own country, they do not necessarily wish to hear visitors doing so.

There are also many titles ending with the suffix –mies (man) that are not considered gender-specific.

It is appropriate for visitors to follow the established practice of whatever language they are using.

The first female Finnish bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is Irja Askola. Chauvinistic or patronizing attitudes towards women are generally considered unacceptable, although such attitudes do persist in practice.

Women do appreciate traditional courtesy, although ultimately they appraise men on the basis of their attitude towards equality.

There are numerous women in academic posts, and in recent years visiting businessmen have also found increasing numbers of ‘the fairer sex’ on the other side of the negotiating table.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland accepts the ordination of women, and there are women priests in numerous parishes.

Women are usually independent financially and may offer to pay their share of a restaurant bill, for instance.

A man may politely refuse such an offer, but it is equally polite to accept it.

As far as religion is concerned, there are very few dangers for visitors to Finland, even on subjects that in other cultures might be particularly sensitive.

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