Some Findings Related to Gender Equality at my Department, a Presentation from FESTA and Nina Almgren

Last week Nina Almgren from the FESTA project did a presentation in the Gender Equality Group at the department. She did an interview study in 2013 at the department, and now she did a presentation focusing on interviews with more senior women at the deparment.

Excellence

One of the areas that she mentioned when talking about the notion of “Excellence” in academia was a dualism in how we talk about what we work with at the deparment:

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This of course affects how we value work and people, and who is seen as excellent and not. There are of course both women and men in both these groups.

Excellence in research is really an interesting area from a gender perspective. We seldom say that women are excellent researchers, or world-leading researchers. Insted we use words such as hard working. Nina Almgren encouraged us all to think about this when we talk about other women in research.

There were some women who were critical towards the culture at the department, and they felt like they do not fit in (I recognize that to some extent…). Or as Nina Almgren puts it in her presentation:

There were women, but no men, who simply said that they just did not fit in the image of an elite mathematician or a computer nerd and, thus, had no possibility of becoming one. This is no wonder, as these stereotypes undermine women’s feelings of belonging in the information technology community—feelings that are critical for women’s decision to stay in academia and make a scientific career.

Informal Decisions and Decision Making

Nina Almgren continued with presenting some results related to informal decision making, and decisions and problems related to this area. Here are some quotes from the interviews:

Not to be asked to write large research proposals even though my project is included.

It might be to appoint any person as director of something, a competence center or whatever it may be, and then someone are just asked, and you could feel that could they not just have checked with me if I wanted to, though I realize that I have become asked in the same way without others being asked.

Information on how to obtain funding for PhD students/postdocs. Many years I thought that they will ask if they think that I should get some. Others asked if they could get a PhD, but I did not realize you could. I have missed things because I have not understood how it works

There were many people at the department who did not know how it works about different things that are really at the core of the organisation. I know that we have worked very much with this part at the deparment, and in a few weeks I am invited to discuss this work at a seminar.

On a side note I talked about gender equality and transparency in decisions with one full professor of Computer Science the other week. He did not think that informal decisions and transparency was something we should work with at the department. It was not worth the effort since it is simply common sense….

Nina Almgren also mentioned what can be done about the gender equality in academia. She recommended the following readings (in the Scandinavian languages):

  • http://physics.aps.org/articles/v9/87
  • http://kjonnsforskning.no/nb/2017/01/framsnakk-som-likestillingstiltak