Interview about being the New Adviser of Equal Opportunities

I was interviewed for the internal web pages at the university, and below is a translation of the interview.

Åsa Cajander has recently taken up the position as Vice – Chancellor’s Council on equal opportunities. She is passionate about the work of creating an inclusive work environment where everyone has the same rights and opportunities and especially wants to emphasize gender mainstreaming and digital accessibility.

It feels great fun and challenging to work university-wide with equal conditions issues based on the experience I have from working as an equal conditions representative at the Department of Information Technology, she says.

In the short term, the most critical work now is about available digital teaching due to the pandemic situation that causes a large proportion of distance learning. In addition, the law on accessibility to digital public services will change later in September, which will be affecting the work of many information channels for some time now.

One of the university’s great strengths
Åsa Cajander’s predecessor in the position as Rector’s Council for Equal Opportunities, Cecilia Wejryd, has, among other things, emphasized the support for students with special needs as one of Uppsala University’s great strengths. Among other things, she has said that the university cannot be satisfied just because its environment is good for almost 100 percent of the students.

I completely agree that we at the university can be proud of our work for students with special needs, and we will continue to work long-term with these issues and in the same structured way as under Cecilia’s leadership, says Åsa Cajander.

One goal that existed in the previous action plan for equal conditions was that 48 percent of the newly recruited professors during the years 2017-2019 would be women. The outcome was eventually 38 percent. The significance of the concrete figures has previously been toned down somewhat, but at the same time it has been emphasized that the work needs to focus on the whole so that women want to become professors in Uppsala while ensuring that those who are already professors are retained.

Åsa Cajander believes that the work of increasing the proportion of women in the professorship within the university needs to be based on the work environment and the conditions for the professors in their everyday lives.

Uppsala University works long-term with these issues at different levels, and the work needs to take time to create sustainable change. Other starting points that we work with are recruitment and competence supply, where concrete plans, for example, are about ensuring that recruitment takes place on objective grounds and that there is an awareness of discrimination and bias through all steps in the recruitment process.

In a debate article in UNT recently, Uppsala University’s work was criticized in terms of gender equality and equal conditions for following a political agenda in practice.

How difficult is it to work with issues that can so easily be interpreted from different angles as an expression of an ideological opinion?

It is important that the university’s work is reviewed and criticized, and I welcome the fact that we constructively discussing equal conditions work. For me, an awareness of bias, norms and values is a central part of equal working conditions and we can all become better at reflecting on how they affect us and our actions. I look forward to further discussions on these issues, says Åsa Cajander.