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.