Category Archives: Equal Opportunities

WONDER Retreat Related to Gender Mainstreaming and Work Environment

In the spring we got funding for a gender mainstreaming and work environment project (WONDER), and we have been working with this at the division of Vi2. The project team consists of colleagues Robin Strand (head of division), Ginevra Castellano (the Equal Opportunities Officer at the Department) and excellent Giulia Perugia.

The project is called WONDER (WOrk eNvironment aND wEllbeing) and is an organisational development project. We will work with health promotion and work environment improvement measures for everyone and with particular focus on the group of doctoral students and young researchers at the unit from a gender perspective.

In October this year the project organises a retreat at Krusenbergs Herrgård with the help of an occupational health expert. We will be discussing and learning more about work environment issues in academia during two days. An unusual amount of people have signed up for the retreat, and I have been discussing the content with the expert from PREVIA that we got recommended. There will also be a follow up seminar from PREVIA in November, and the plan is that we will also have additional seminars about gender mainstreaming and the work environment at the division.

We will also look into and try to evaluate our work environment from a gender perspective as a part of the project. We will look into space, time allocation and resources. I would also very much like to look into the issue of Academic household work, that has recently been discussed in media https://www.tidningencurie.se/nyheter/2019/08/27/vem-star-for-hushallsarbetet-i-akademin/. However, I am not sure that there is room for that in this project, and perhaps we need additional funding to look into this part.

Many people suffer from stress and we need to improve wellbeing in academia – especially for women who are more likely to suffer from stress. This project is an attempt to move things one step in the right direction!

Long-term, transparency and resources have made the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University an role model for work with gender equality

This is a translation of an article in Universitetsläraren published in May 2019 about the Departments’ work with equal opportunities .

Long-term, transparency and resources have made the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University an role model for work with gender equality.

The professors Åsa Cajander and Michael Thuné have, in their previous roles as equality representatives and head of department, pursued gender equality issues at the department.

– You usually talk about two aspects of gender equality, one is that there should be equal gender distribution, the other is that there should be equal work conditions and that there should be no gender differences. It often happens that the focus is on the even gender distribution, but we have tried to put the main focus on equal conditions and equal working conditions and create a good working environment for everyone, says Michael Thuné.
The institution’s gender equality work is nothing new, but Michael Thuné has been working on the issues at the department for 20 years.
– One of the things that I consider important to us was when we got a collaboration with a gender equality project funded by the EU, where they worked with action research. As an ombudsman for gender, I had a gender expert who came to all our meetings, was available to me to talk to several times a week, we discussed the different situations and meetings and the measures. It was continuous help for several years, says Åsa Cajander.
One important thing is also that there are financial resources.

– The Gender Equality Officer has ten percent in their service and also a budget of over one million continuously each year for gender equality projects and various measures. This is something that costs money, says Åsa Cajander.
One important thing is to move from informal structures to formal structures.- We have focused a lot on transparent communication and decision paths so that employees do not miss important information, which is a way of being overridden, says Michael Thuné.

Among other things, you send out information in advance even for smaller meetings, and you have introduced an institution-wide standing committee.

– There are many important assignments that have previously been designated a little informally, in small informal working groups, says Michael Thuné.
When it is now to be appointed, for example, a new director of studies announced that it is time to nominate.
– It has had a huge effect that we have received more women on management assignments in recent years. Today, all three leading positions are occupied by women, says Åsa Cajander.
All of these measures have led to a better work environment and even more women in total at the institution, but this is not a big increase. The number of women in the IT sector is few.

Why do you do this?
– My input is that a lot of problems follow with the digitization and the rapid pace of change contributes to unwanted effects. We need people who work with these issues who have values ​​other than the ones in the IT industry, we just need more women.
– I am more driven by both a fair and a quality perspective. There should be no gender-related differences in conditions and working conditions. It is a matter of justice. And both at the university and at the department, it is a quality issue that all employees and all students have the opportunity to perform their best without structures that hinder them, says Michael Thuné.
Another aspect of successful gender equality work is the importance of getting support from the management, both at university and faculty level.

The gender equality work at the department continues with work environment-oriented projects where one is pasting a department at a time.
– Recently, we have also introduced a career development program for all assistant university lecturers. The idea is that those who do not receive such support on an informal basis will benefit more from the fact that there is prepared support for everyone. We believe that this can promote gender equality and equal conditions in a broader sense, says Michael Thuné.

Gender Mainstreaming in Academia – the Wonder Project

My colleagues Robin Strand (head of division), Ginevra Castellano (the Equal Opportunities Officer at the Department) and I (deputy head of division) has received funding within gender mainstreaming from the central university. Giulia Perugia is also on the team and together we will work with making a difference in this area.

The project is called WONDER (WOrk eNvironment aND wEllbeing) and is an organisational development project. We will work with health promotion and work environment improvement measures for everyone and with particular focus on the group of doctoral students and young researchers at the unit. And from a gender perspective

The first part focuses on working environment and health with five seminar opportunities on preventing stress, depression and stress in relation to gender. We will also invite an stress expert to do workshops with us.

Part two focuses on inclusive leadership. We shall, among other things, develop a strategy for sustainable leadership, develop a policy for how internal resources are distributed so that, for example, the distribution of faculty resources and workload becomes transparent and can be followed up.  We will improve their information dissemination with skills-enhancing seminars, which in turn will result in a strategy for inclusive communication.

Super Nice Surprise by the Equal Opportunities Team at the Department

I have been the Equal Opportunities Officer at the department for a few years. This role has included working with a team of people from administrative staff, technical staff and representatives from the five different divisions. The department has a strong focus on equal opportunities, and have a very ambitious yearly plan about the work. The team has been amazing in this work. We have had a very positive and creative atmosphere, and I have put quite a lot of effort into doing a good job.

A few weeks back I was honorary discharged of the role. I have been given the opportunity to work as deputy head of division, and I felt like it was two much keeping both roles.

The equal opportunities team surprised me early one Monday morning and handed over a painting that they had made. On the painting they had written encouraging and super nice things thanking me for my efforts. I must say that I was really very surprised and happy about this. We are not especially good at showing appreciation at the department, and this was indeed not expected.  Now I have the nice painting hanging on the wall in my office that reminds about equal opportunities and gender equality.

I will have the possibility to thank everyone on the equal opportunities team on an international celebration’s day that is organised by Virginia Grande Castro and others. Anyone is welcome to attend! You can read more here:

http://www.it.uu.se/about_us/equality/international_celebration

 

 

Interviewed by SVT Nyheter about Gender Equality Work in Academia

As you know I work with gender equality in academia and also do some research on career paths in eHealth.
The department’s work with gender equality and recommendations for successfully doing so was broadcasted on TV last week followed by a new article. In the interview they talked to me and the former Head of Department, Michael Thuné. Of course one of the recommendations for others who want to work with gender equality is to collaborate with external experts and researchers in the area. Other recommendations that we make are to have the management’s active support for your work, to work with this as an integrated part of you ordinary work and to have a long term strategy.
You can find the piece of news here:

Attending Conferences and Bringing Kids Along

I have four kids, and I have frequently attended conferences when they have come along. Perhaps it is not always optional to bring them, but the alternative would be to stay at home – and I don’t want that. Then I think it is better for me to go and try to balance work-life as good as I can and I adapt the trip to the kid so that they get a nice experience too.

When my youngest son was one years old he had been to many countries (nine?), and one result from us travelling so much with him is that he speaks OK English at the age of six. This is many years before he starts English at school.

The picture below is from Gothenburg and ICSE 2018 where I did a key note, and my husband attended one of the workshops on computer science education. We also met our very good colleague Tony Clear who helped Sixten try the conference T-shirt.

Tony and Sixten

Some tips for making it work to bring kids: 

  • Perhaps grand-parents have the possibility to travel with you to the conference with you? It could be a nice experience for them and for the kid
  • If it doesn’t work 100% as expected that is quite normal. Having kids is often a bit like leaving the planning to someone else… 🙂
  • If you go to the conference as a couple you can share responsibility for the kid. We often try to share the responsibility
  • Plan something that the kid likes to do so that the trio becomes a positive experience for everyone
  • Be prepared to replan things, and make up a plan B if plan A fails.

Submitted Programme Application

This week I submitted an application for funding of a research programme related to equal communiation using ICT for foreign-born people. The programme will include three complementary research areas and addresses an urgent societal problem. The three areas are caring sciences, computer science and health economics.

The writing process was really very much fun this time. I collaborated with a full professor of Caring Science, and we had a great time even though we don’t know each other that much. The full professor of Caring Science is the Principal Investigator of the application.

In the programme we will work with the exploration of communiation needs of foreign-bron people with chronical diseases, and then continue with implementation of ICT related support to improve communication. The programme will run for six years, if funded, and will include three PhD students and two post doc positions some of which are in caring sciences and others in computer science.

When writing applications for funding, chances are quite low that you get funded. However, if you don’t submit any applications there will for sure be no money….

I really hope that we get funding for this programme and that I can get the possibility to explore this area!!

Participating in Panel Discussion about Software Engineering @ITiCSE 2018 on Cyprus

I have been invited to be a member of a panel on Software Engineering. The area to discuss is how the field has advanced and whether its education addresses the main problems and industry needs. I have several ideas of what to bring up at the workshop, and I haven’t really decided which one to choose yet. The ideas are:

  • Generellt software engineering at the university has too little focus on addressing wicked problems. There are far too many IT projects that fail.
  • Too little focus on professional competencies and the development of those.
  • Too little focus on user involvement and user needs.
  • We need to prepare students for working in an automateld software engineering profession. And we need to engage in the creation of this profession.
  • We need to see to it that computing becomes an inclusive profession and address the gender equality issue. Now!

I’ll write another blog post when I have decided which direction to go in… This will be fun!

Reframing to Equal Opportunities and not only Gender Equality – Do you have any tips?

I have been working with gender equality at the department of Information Technology for a few years, and I have really enjoyed this work. We have a great team at the department, and the support from management has been extremely good. Now it has been decided that the group will refocus and reframe into an equal opportunities group. The coming year we will be working on learning about equal opportunities, and I will spend time studying online courses, and attending seminars on equal opportunities. I am a bit worried about this reframing as we have had a great team working with gender equality with some very competent people. I guess that they are very competent in learning new things too, and we are indeed all very interested in the topic.

I might attend the Frontiers in Education Conference in 2018, as I know that they usually have presentations and workshops on gender equality and equal opportunities. Btw: It is very likely that this conference will be run in Uppsala in a few years 🙂

Do you have any tips on what we should read, or what conferences to visit to learn about the area of equal opportunities?

Applications for Funding from an Equal Opportunites Perspective

Doing evaluations for EU applications has so far been quite a learning experience. I have been asked to do evaluations of very large applications in the ICT area, and I will be doing applications 5-6 time a year for the coming years. The competence that I am especially contributing to for the group of evaluators is the equal opportunities perspective, apart from me being a researcher in ICT.

Many in the ICT business think it is very difficult to think of ICT projects from an equal opportunities perspective. They see ICT as neutral, and hence it is not possible too talk about from a any perspective. ICT is transparent, in their view, and simply a value free tool that people can use. It is as value free as a hammer. Anyone can use a hammer. (Smile). Firsts of all, ICT technology are male coded, and it is a completely male dominated area. A hammer also has all kinds of connotations to male professions, and men who are unable to use a hammer are not seen as real men….. Doing masculinity without being good at hammering is of course possible, but you rarely find men who are proud of not being able to use a hammer. ICT has the same kind of connotations. Also, not everyone can use a hammer due to not having the physical ability, not being able to see or having hands that are unable to hold a hammer.

ICT is not neutral, and there are a few large areas to look at when thinking about it in relation to ICT projects


1) The development work. Who are on the team? What are the roles of women and men on the team? What are their salaries in the project? Who will be talking to customers? Will all men be back-end programmers? What management principles will be used? How will management make sure that every competence is seen and heard? Is the management style inclusive? Is the manager and the people on the team aware of equal opportunities and have competence in the area?


2) Users Represented in the Project. How are the users present in the development? Do the project test with users? How are users recruited? Are all kinds of users represented? How do you make sure that you listen to all comments from users without being biased?

3) Assumptions about Users. What assumptions are made about the users of the technology? Have you though of people from all discrimination grounds? We have a tendency to design technology for men, and forget about diversity in all its forms. We need to do something about that.

4) Knowledge about inclusive design, design for all etc. I think that many software developers etc need better knowledge about design for all and inclusive design. What are the recommendations for inclusive design of web applications, of user interfaces etc? How do you make sure that your system is usable for everyone? My colleague Lars Oestreicher is an expert in this area and one of our best teachers at the department. If you want to learn more read his upcoming book or take his courses.
 The above are just some of the things that are relevant when writing an application and adding the equal opportunities perspective. I really hope to see fewer of the applications saying that ICT is neutral, and that there is nothing to say about the project application from an equal opportunities perspective.