LGBTIQA+ and Legal Aspects of the Use of Personal Pronouns

For long, my excellent colleagues in the equal opportunities team have worked with personal pronouns at our university. As an employe and education providers, we must work with active measures related to the Swedish seven discrimination grounds. The use of personal pronouns is related to discrimination about gender, gender identity and gender expression. My understanding is that students, and others, experience it problematic when addressed incorrectly. For example, if they identify themselves as a woman, or non-binary and their legal gender is male, they might experience problems. Some teachers will address them in mails etc. with the wrong personal pronoun which they find offensive and even discriminating. This experienced problem related to personal pronouns and their use became even more evident at the Gotland Pride festival, where we organised an LGBTIQA+ workshop with students, see this blog post. Hence, it might be discrimination if someone consciously uses the wrong personal pronoun when they know the correct personal pronoun.

However, my colleagues who have worked with this experience that it is quite complicated to get a clear answer from the authorities in charge of discrimination and storage of information regarding personal pronouns and possible solutions. One possible solution that the students at Gotland pride suggested would be to do a round of presentations with personal pronouns at the start of a course or meeting. When asked if it is OK to do a round of presentations with personal pronouns at the start of a student course, the legal experts answered that this is not recommended. A person has the right to provide confidential information about themselves (e.g. someone has told that they are binary). Consequently, if a student voluntarily wishes to specify the personal pronoun, it is up to that person. However, they think it is inappropriate for the university to organize a name and personal pronoun round because it can feel very compelling for a young person. It also opens up for mistreatment from classmates, the experts from the authorities claim.

Another possible measure would be to voluntary store a personal pronoun or similar in the study administration IT systems, which was also suggested at the Gotland Pride workshop. Teachers could then use this to know what personal pronouns to use. But that does not seem to be OK either from a legal perspective. Here you run into problems is the storage of sensitive personal information and data about people’s health and sexuality, which is generally covered by secrecy laws according to the authorities. Hence, storing personal pronouns in the IT systems is not a recommended option either.

The measures to promote the correct use of personal pronouns seems to be tricky to find, and we will continue working on this on a national level to get clear answers.

RFSL has worked with recommendations related to LGBTIQA+ that are very useful, they are found here. Also, some good news is that the equal opportunities people at the Student Affairs and Academic Registry Division have worked on recommendations and guidelines related to LGBTIQA+ for teachers. Here much broader issues are addressed than the use of personal pronouns. These are still working documents, but hopefully, they will be officially available soon and can be used as discussion grounds, information and in educations for teachers. More information will come related to this!

Preparing for a Hearing to Possibly Receive Funding for a Research Programme

We passed the first step towards receiving the funding for our Mistra programme proposal in their call Societal Transformations for Climate Action. Our programme is called: “Fast Forwarding for Fair Futures. Environmental Governance, Participation and Collaborative Learning for Societal Transformations”. I have spent the weekend preparing for the hearing this week. I think that we have a strong proposal, and I am very proud of the team behind the work, especially of Anne Peters, who have really worked hard with this and is such an excellent and impressive researcher. I really want to do a good job at the hearing, and I know that preparation for any presentation is key. So working this weekend was the only option when looking at my calendar for the week.

Building a fundamentally altered society is a challenging job. It requires disrupting existing practices and changing values, norms, and cultures. Any efforts to do so create moral dilemmas, political opposition, and conflicting ideas and interests.

Taking on such a task requires joined bands, creativity, and secure collaboration. In our Mistra programme, we bring together scholars from various disciplines, working in environmental governance, sustainability, civil society organisations, education and information technology. Together with civil society partners and local and regional authorities, we will endeavour to work towards carbon neutral and just societies.

The team comes from Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences (SLU), Luleå University of Technology (LTU), Ghent University and the University of Bristol. Civil society partners include the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Hela Sverige Ska Leva, Fridays For Future, Omställningsnätverk, and education associations Akademi Norr. Since last summer, we have worked on the proposal, and some of us at almost full-time speed.

Our research covers three regions of Sweden – Uppsala, Gotland, and Norrbotten. These regions provide different insights into civil society’s roles, the opportunities and hindrances connected to digitalisation and questions of justice reflecting the diversity of contexts in Sweden.

Central to our work is learning about different societal transformation processes and methodologies to work collaboratively and effectively toward climate transitions. Throughout this programme, the various actors will critically reflect on the different approaches to identify best practices for approaching action research for societal transformation. That way, we will achieve climate action in various empirical contexts and transform how academic and non-academic partners collaborate for climate action, empowering all of us to continue striving for fair futures.

Working on a NordiCHI 2024 Conference Organisation Proposal

My colleague from the Department of Informatics and Media, professor Annika Waern and I decided to try to organise the NordiCHI conference in Uppsala in 2024. I think it is a great idea to try to make our two HCI departments work closer together and collaborate around such a thing. The NordiCHI conference has been running bi-annually for around 20 years, and I have been attending it more or less every time. Many of my academic friends also go, and I have also had a few publications on this conference. Last time when organised by Tallin University, I was one of the chairs for case study papers.

NordiCHI is the principal Nordic conference for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research. NordiCHI addresses the area broadly, and often I find many interesting papers presented related to user-centred design and eHealth. It is a meeting spot for researchers from academia and industry, artists, teachers and others working within HCI and associated areas.

Annika Waern and I have had meetings with Akademikonferens about the bid. Akademikonferens is a common full-service Professional Congress Organizer for Karolinska Institutet, SLU and Uppsala University. Their work is to focus our research areas, such as Human-Computer Interaction, by organising successful meetings and conferences. So far, they have helped us understand how you write a bid, decide locations, themes, and do much of the work behind the proposal. It has been a very positive experience. We will use the traditional atmosphere of Uppsala university with the conference in the main university building, and keynotes in the University Aula. We are also thinking about linking the theme of the meeting to culture and heritage.

We will continue this work in spring 2021, and submit before the end of May. The decision about who will organise the conference will be based on the venue’s attractiveness, the capacity to use current HCI communities within academy and industry, past expertise in organizing similar conferences, and the global recognition of people in charge of the meeting. Wish us luck!!!

Breddad rekrytering – ett mycket aktuellt och viktigt område!

I veckan har jag deltagit i Uppsala universitets arbete om breddad rekrytering. Med breddad rektytering menas bland annat studenters arbetsmiljö, gemomströmning och lika villkorsfrågor kopplat till studenter. Arbetet leds av Eva Söderman och Cecilia Edin som samordnar en grupp med cirka tio personer för att beskriva universitets arbete inom området. Rapporten kommer att skrivas och gå på remiss under våren. Det jag beskriver i denna bloggpost är bara en liten del av det som kartläggs.

Under workshopen i veckan var det en genomgång av kunskapsläget inom området, och deltagarna presenterade olika rapporter och kunskapssammanställningar för att få en fördjupad förståelse och en startpunkt.

Jag måste säga att det var mycket intressant, och ämnet är verkligen relevant för samhället i stort. Nedan följer några av de saker som nämndes, med länkar till de rapporter som vi diskuterade.

Studentens sociala bakgrund verkar inte ha någon betydelse för benägenheten att hoppa av en påbörjad högskoleutbildning. Social bakgrund påverkar inte avhopp, men betygen från gymnasieskolan har en viss påverkan

Studenters sociala bakgrund däremot påverkar examensfrekvensen. I den här rapporten kan man läsa att på “utbildningarna till civilingenjör, jurist, läkare och psykolog tar studenter med lågutbildade föräldrar inte ut sin examen i samma utsträckning som studenter med högutbildade föräldrar”.

Man kan också konstatera att den sociala snedrekryteringen till högskolan följer samma mönster sedan mycket lång tid. Det här verkar vara ett stabilt problem som är svårt att påverka. Desto högre utbildning föräldrarna har, desto vanligare är det att man börjar studera på högskolan eller universitetet. Det gäller både kvinnor och män. Läs mer i den här rapporten.

Man kan konstatera att många unga från studieovana miljöer och familjer inte studerar vidare trots höga betyg. Den här UKÄ-studien visar att en stor grupp unga, med föräldrar med låg utbildning, väljer bort universitet och högskola trots att de har höga betyg från gymnasieskolan.

Sverige har en segregerad arbetsmarknad, och under workshopen diskuterades också denna aspekt. UKÄ har i en rapport beskrivit kvinnor och män studerar olika ämnen, på alla nivåer: grundnivå, avancerad nivå och på forskarnivå. Detta leder till att den könsuppdelade arbetsmarknaden består. I de här ämnena hittar man kvinnorna bland nybörjarna 2014/5: juridik, samhällsvetenskap, humaniora, teologi, medicin, odontologi, vård och omsorg. Männen återfanns inom teknik och naturvetenskap. Endast i de konstnärliga områdena var könsfördelningen jämn.

Utvecklingen är positiv vad det gäller antalet studenter och doktorander med svensk och utländsk bakgrund. Andelen nybörjare med utländsk bakgrund fortsätter att öka. Läsåret 2018/19 hade 26 procent av högskolenybörjarna (inresande studenter oräknade) utländsk bakgrund. Föregående läsår var motsvarande andel 25 procent och tio läsår tidigare var andelen 17 procent. Det har också skett en ökning av andelen med utländsk bakgrund i befolkningen som helhet under den senaste tioårsperioden. Läs mer i den här rapporten.

Det ska bli spännande att lära sig mer om detta område, och också att jobba med frågorna framöver!

Välkomna på lunchsemiarium 19 februari.

Nu är det dags för forskarnätverket Swedish Collaboration on Digital Care Reserach att starta vår serie med lunchwebbinarier och först ut är professor Åsa Cajander från Uppsala Universitet som kommer att berätta om sin studie av hur en chattfunktion på 1177 har påverkat vårdpersonalens arbetsmiljön.

Under 2019 genomförde Region Uppsala ett pilotprojekt inom ramen för Nära Vård Online där man gav patienter möjligheter att efter säker inloggning och registrering av upplevda symtom skriftligen chatta med sjuksköterskor på 1177 Vårdguiden. Syftet var att genom denna digitalisering öka effektiviteten i att ge råd kring omvårdnad och vidare vård, och också att vid behov ge patienten möjligheten att chatta med en läkare. I den här studien ville forskarna studera hur digitaliseringen påverkar vårdpersonalens arbetsengagemang och om arbetsbördan ökar eller minskar i och med chattfunktionen. Observationer genomfördes på plats i fem timmar med sjuksköterskor som använde chatten och som i normala fall använder telefon för medicinsk rådgivning till patienter. Dessutom genomfördes halvstrukturerade intervjuer med nio sjuksköterskor som deltog i digitaliseringsprojektet för att samla kunskap om deras upplevelse av arbetssituationerna.

Cajander, Å., Larusdottir, M. & Hedström, G., The effects of automation of a patient-centric service in primary care on the work engagement and exhaustion of nurse.  Qual User Exp 5, 9 (2020). (open Access

Anmäl dig här så skickar vi en länk till Zoom-mötet några dagar innan webbinariet.

Working on a Large Funding Application in the Area of Sustainability

Society faces major difficulties associated with our environment, human use of natural supplies, and our surroundings’ influence. The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) works with these challenges by investing in research that serves to produce sustainable improvement of society. This is achieved by funding in different initiatives in which researchers and stakeholders from society make mutual contributions to resolving key environmental dilemmas.

Uppsala Sustainability Initiative’s Anne Peters has worked with this in the front line, together with a network of researchers (including me) from several other universities and organisations. We are answering Mistra’s recent call for programmes in the area of sustainable strategic environmental research and change. The call’s focus areas are equity, digitalisation, and civil society, and I have been asked, and accepted, to be the programme director.

We have created a strong network of people who work with the application. There has been an extraordinary amount of commitment from everyone involved so far. The first weeks in January have been super hectic, and we have needed to work long days to finish everything. When this is done, I will celebrate with a bottle of champagne with my husband!

This motivates me to work in academia

Academia can be a tough place with hard competition, stress and a constant feeling of doing too little. It is also very conservative regarding equal opportunities with few women, people from minority groups, etc. Also, doing research is not an easy job. Most people I know get rejected a lot as a part of their publication and writing application processes. Also, the academic culture is that of critique, and academics seldom overdose others with positive feedback. Despite all this, I have been in academia for a long time now – soon 20 years and recently I was asked what motivate me to continue working here. 

For me, my work is associated with a feeling of autonomy which I appreciate a lot. With this, I mean that I have strong freedom or control over my life and self, and many days of the year few people know what I am doing, where I am or what I prioritize. To a considerable extent, I can decide what I want to focus on, and what I put time and effort into doing. Of course, I have deadlines in projects, teaching and reports that need to be written or read but overall, I have a lot of autonomy. One of the main components of autonomy is the locus of control, a continuum on which people lie that denotes how much authority they have over the outcome of a situation. Most often, I feen a high locus of control. Writing of funding applications is a large exception, though. I have no feeling of control over what is funded or not. So far it seems more of a lottery than anything else when you submit an application that you believe in.

Intellectual stimulation through collaboration is the second part that motivates me to work in academia. I have very nice and smart colleagues to discuss with and learn from. I enjoy the discussions where my horizons are expanded, and we find new pathways forward. Honestly, I am motivated by being a bit outside my comfort zone, and to dig my teeth into new areas, theories, research questions or ideas. There is always something to learn still!

The sense of being in a position where I can make a difference. I have the feeling that I can make a difference through my work with equal opportunities, research and teaching. I want to make a footprint, to impact change in the right direction and to improve things. My areas where I want to improve things are IT in health care, equal opportunities, IT, sustainability and the work environment. All areas are indeed difficult to change, but I am trying the best I can. Lucky thing I am never working on anything on my own, but always in collaboration with excellent people who bring their ideas and experiences to the table.

Energizing as a Full Professor of Human-Computer Interaction – Painting Walls, Floors and Ceilings

How do you regain energy after a Covid-19 period? I had low hopes for the Christmas vacation and no plans really. I felt quite drained of energy after a period of too much to do, a new role to take on and some people around me who felt clinically depressed and drained of energy.

I have had a long Christmas break this year, and have been extra careful to take many days off work, and I have not even checked my email (!!). In all, I was off work for three full calendar weeks. This was really good for me!

Instead of working, my husband, four kids and I have spent quite some time painting and renovating three bathrooms and one bedroom. Of course, the equipment was bought online and delivered to our house due to Covid-19. My partner has done most of the IKEA furniture assembling work and laying a new floor in one bedroom. I have mostly done the painting projects which I truly enjoy! I believe that painting surfaces can be a powerful stress-relieving exercise where you see a tangible result;

1) You can recognise what you have achieved since that section looks great.

2) You can clearly understand what you have left to do since that section is less good looking.

3) There is no need to use your mind, but better let your hands learn what you are supposed to be doing and

4) You can listen to books or pods while paining (I have listened to Swedish radio programs on health and wellbeing and books).

Indeed painting is very unlike scholarly work in general which is not that clearly defined and you most often have only a vague idea of how far you have reached. Notwithstanding, I’m quite convinced that painting is my prospective career. I am covered in paint when I am done, and I am not very professional in my performance as there is paint all over the place. Good thing that there is acetone to clean off paint from the skin before the Zoom rally began this week!

I really feel energised by all the painting and I am looking forward to starting working this week. I am, however looking forward to the vaccine being launched globally to live life more as usual. Since March, we have been working from home, and our social life has been minimal during this whole period. And we have teenagers at home due to homeschooling, and also most weeks one of the younger kids who claim they have a headache or a sore throat. We have had one indoors guest only since March. Luckily, that person is super interesting to talk to and to discuss with. We have really enjoyed the company with good food and Disney films.

I hope that your Christmas was great and that you had something meaningful and fun to do that gave you energy! 

This year taking time off is extra important

Many of us are tired after long working hours and extra work due to Covid-19. So this Christmas we need to take extra good care of ourselves. We need to regain energy! This can be done in a large variety of ways, but many with a cognitive work regain energy through other things than using your brain. These things could be walking in the forest or nice surroundings, watching a nice film, reading a book and spend time with family or friends.

I will spend a few weeks with my family, cooking, taking long walks and reading books. I am not sure that I will take three weeks off as planned, but perhaps save a few days to be able to go on a vacation when Covid is gone. I will be back to work in January, and the blog will also be on vacation for a few weeks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

There is a Need to Improve Work with Equal Opportunities

Equal conditions are a matter of rights for the individual and a success factor for organizations and society. An equal conditions perspective should be integrated into all parts of a business, and the work environment should be characterized by openness and respect,
Working with equal opportunities, a widespread understanding meets my colleagues and me in the council for equal conditions at Uppsala University that our work fulfils an important function. The vast majority think that it is obvious that all people should have the same rights, opportunities and obligations. But more knowledge is needed about how to create an inclusive work environment as an organization. In some cases, there is also a lack of competence in how long-term and successful equal conditions work should best be conducted, which can lead to the efforts being point-oriented and driven by enthusiasts.

Many organizations also need to broaden their focus in work for equal conditions from the legal gender to apply to all seven grounds of discrimination. In general, knowledge is better about discrimination and gender equality when it comes to legal gender, and many of us need to learn more about discrimination, norms and values ​​linked to other grounds of discrimination.

At Uppsala University, the work takes place on equal terms at many levels within the organization. Given that the organization is decentralized, coordination is also needed at the central level, and we, therefore, have an equal conditions council with representatives from the university’s different parts with a rector’s council as chairman.

One of the things that the university has worked on is how transgender people should be treated in the best way. The goal has been to train teachers on how to deal with transgender people and create a safe working environment for them.

We have also worked on how we can make it easier for students with special needs. There is now an adapted examination room where students with, for example, dyslexia or concentration difficulties, or who need their own assistant or a service dog, have the opportunity to write their examination.

One area that Uppsala University focuses on going forward is broadened recruitment, as the university does not reflect what the surrounding society looks like. Two of the three fields of science have worked to investigate the causes of this imbalance and what can be done about it.

The university is also working long-term to increase the number of professors with legal gender. To achieve a gender distribution within the range of 40 to 60 per cent, we need to work with, among other things, work environment issues and transparent career paths. In this work, of course, we also need to ensure that recruitment and skills supply takes place on objective grounds and that there is an awareness of discrimination and bias through all steps in the recruitment process.

At Uppsala University, we see equal conditions as a quality issue. Equal conditions work inspiring and long-term for the university’s development and continued success.

This blog post is a translation of a debate article that I wrote for Tidningen Publikt about equal opportunities. You find the Swedish article here: