Category Archives: gender equality

Flipped Gender Equality Coffee Discussion Based on TED talk


As you might know the flipped classroom is a phenomenon in teaching and learning. Some even present it as the silver bullet of all the problems we have in Higher Education.

At my department which we though that we’d try concept at our gender equality coffee break discussion (in Swedish fika) next week. It will be “a flipped gender equality fika”.

The plan is to watch this TED talk before the fika and discuss it during the fika:

The idea of the TED talk came up at our last meeting in the gender equality group, and one of the participants found this TED talk.

Here are two questions that we will discuss at the fika: 

– How can we (as a society) make such a creative idea work?
– What are the challenges for the parents and for the child?

As usual the fika is open to anyone at the Department of Information Technology.  We’ll see how many show up.

Perhaps this is an idea that you could copy in your organisation?


On Being a Film Star for 30 Seconds at the NordWit Centre Meeting

“Please stand on the spot.  Hold the paper in front of you. No, not that high up: Your paper needs to be further down. Remember to smile.  Try to look natural.”

Last week did my first recording of a research presentation. The presentation lasted 30 sek and the short film will appear online soon on the NordWIT web page.

The whole NordWIT Centre team did films, and it will be interesting to see how well this spread in social media. One part of me wishes them to be very successful, since that would mean that people are interested in what we are doing. Another part of me really hopes that they will be NON- successful since I was awfully nervous and I both studdered and look completely NON-natural. I needed to redo the reading six times (at least)!!

Here are my observations from this experience:

  • 30 seconds is a very short time. I did many rehearsals but it was still difficult.
  • Given how nervous I was I think that doing a film using my computer would be easier for me. Quality would probably not be as good though.
  • Doing the films was almost a teambuilding experience

Equal Opportunities’ Team Retreat 2017

The equal opportunities team at the Department of Information Technology (previously gender equality group) goes on a retreat to beautiful Krusenberg herrgård every year. We spent 24 hours discussing and evaluating the work in the group and planning our work ahead.

I must say that we have an excellent group and there are so many great discussions. I especially appreciate the effort of my colleague Anna-Lena Forsberg who collaborate with me in organising and keeping track of our work. We also have excellent help from the equal opportunities expert Nina Almgren from the university administration.

Equal opportunities work should be integrated in all parts of the core activities in an organisation. It includes working with organisational culture and aspects such as transparency and knowledge. The aim is to create an organisation where everyone has the same opportunities, rights and obligations. This is not easily done though.

Next year our focus of the groups work is firstly to increase our knowledge of equal opportunities. We have an ambitious plan and the first thing that happens is the organisation of an Equal Opportunities course open for everyone at the department. I’m looking forward to attending this course and to learning more about the area. ?

Organizing a Retreat for Writing Applications for Promotion

If you want to be promoted in academia you need to write an application for promotion. Research has shown that women are less likely to ask for promotion, even when qualified, and some would say that we have a very harsh view you of our own qualifications. Others would say that this is due to the context, as the assessment of women’s CV’s is gendered. You find an interesting paper on the topic here. I would say that the problem is the result of a mix of both perspectives.

Perhaps one way of handling this is to encourage women and to facilitate the writing of the promotion documents? In our gender equality work we think that this could be a possible way forward, and we therefore a fund a retret for writing documents for promotion.

Hence, in December, the gender equality group will organize a retreat for writing applications for promotion. People working at the Department of information technology want to write applications for being promoted to for example Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor or Excellent Teacher are very welcome to join. I will organize the retreat together with Aletta Nylén and Anna Eckerdahl from the UpCERG research group.  All three of us will also be writing applications for a promotion this fall.

The idea of the retreat is both to encourage people to write applications, and to create an awareness of what is needed to be promoted. We also hope that those who join the retreat will find support in each other, and that this network will help in the future too. And of course we hope that the retweet will result in a number of applications for promotion.

We have been in contact with all women at the Department who are close to being promoted, and sent them a personal invitation. We have also contacted men who we know are at this stage in their career. I must say that this part of the job was one of the most rewarding things done in a long time. People were very happy about being asked!  

Hopefully this will be an interesting and fruitful occasion. If you’re curious you find a tentative plan here, and I’m very glad if you want to reuse this idea! Perhaps you could organise a similar thing at your university?



Success, Having a Fighting Spirit and the Mindset of YET – and one of our research studies

There are researchers such as Angela Duckworth who argue that success is more about effort and a fighting spirit than it is about talent, genius or any other predictor such as health or looks. Her research shows that this particular fighting spirit called “grit” is more important to success than talent. She has done a very interesting Ted talk on the topic that can be found on her home page, here. Recommended! There was also a recent radio program in Swedish on the topic, and Angela Duckworth is interviewed on the show. You find the Swedish show here

One way of helping students, or yourself, attain more grit is to aim for the “Growth mindset” developed by Carol Dweck and others. A key word in this way of thinking is the word YET, and that even though you don’t know everything you have the possibility to learn. Carol Dweck has also done a very insipiring Ted Talk about this found here.

In short the Growth Mindset as presented by Carol Dweck includes the following key elements or ways of thinking:

  • We can all get smarter. Abilities can develop.
  • We know what efforts make us better, and we are aware of what we can do to practice.
  • We put in extra time and effort when we want to achieve things since we know this will pay off.
  • We focus on the learning process, and not the end results. Focus on the “I’m not there YET, but I will reach there”.

The opposite of having the growth mindset is a fixed mindset where you believe that basic qualities or skills such as intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. With this mindset you also believe that talend alone will create success and for those who are gifted success comes without any effort at all.  They’re wrong, and this mind set does not help you much. 

Note! In the context of the fixed mindset it should be noted that there is a gender issue with the fixed mind set. Studies by Ann-Sofie Nyström have investigated why boys have a tendency to believe that “Smart students get perfect scores without studying much” and there is a norm that the best boy should be an effortless achiever.

Our Study on Conscientiousness, Grit and Programming Achievement

In a study that was published at the 2015 ITiCSE conference we tried to find correlations between conscientiousness, grit and programming achievement. The study was driven by Roger McDermott, and Mats Daniels and I collaborted with Roger McDermott on  writing it up.  Our study did find weak but significant correlations between conscientiousness, grit and programming achievement and from the study one can draw the tentative conclusion that having a fighting spirit and not give up is a key success factor in computer science and that we need to provide learning opportunities for our students to practice.


We investigate the link between concepts of perseverance such as conscientiousness, tenacity, and grit, and the academic attainment of first year computing students. We give a review of the role that perseverance plays in learning models as well as describing the role of conscientiousness in the Five Factor Model of personality. We outline research that links this trait with academic success before focussing on recent, narrower conceptualisations of perseverance such as academic tenacity and grit. We describe one of the questionnaire tools that have been used to assess one such aspect of perseverance. We give details of an investigation that looked for correlations between student responses to Duckworth’s Grit Survey, the Big Five Inventory (BFI) Personality Survey and summative attainment scores in a first year programming course. The results suggest a weak but significant correlation between conscientiousness, grit and programming achievement. We discuss these results as well as the limitations of the method used. Finally, we make some observations about the importance of these concepts in Computer Science education and outline further work in this area.


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.


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:

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):


To Ask or Not to Ask? A Critical Incident and Gender Equality

This week we had an interesting situation at the department when the new programme board for the computer science programmes were to be decided upon.I am a member of the department board, but did not attend this meeting due to the kick-off with the NordWit centre. However, what happened is really a critical incident worth reflecting some more on.

I work at the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University, and we have around 26% women if you look at all employees, but there are much less women that are associate professors or full professors. If you are curious you find some figures regarding men and women in our gender equality plan, and our work with gender equality is presented by Virginia Grande in this blog post.

This is what happened in this critical incident:

The suggested programme board for the computer programme board was all male, and the board did not accept it due to gender equality. The department board hence postponed the decision related to who would be a member of this programme board.

This was followed by a discussion per mail, and a request for 1) a description of why only men were suggested, and 2) also a description of what measures had been taken to find women for the positions.

Here are some perspectives that has come up when discussing this critical incident.

My name was mentioned as one possible member of the computer science programme board. But since I have much to do, and a full calendar, they did not ask me out of kindness and consideration. Note: I do have lots of things to do, and I would probably have said no if I was asked about this job. And saying no would have taken some energy from me, as I try to be helpful (which is perhaps only fulfilling the norm). However, one should note that I have not been asked to be a part of many committees, or groups, but that could be because of many reasons.

This also is a part of a larger discussion when women are not asked out of consideration of their work situation in male dominated organisations. There is a risk, some maintain, that competent women will be drowned in unpaid work in different groups and committees, and that this will stop them in their career.

So what would be the right thing to do here? To ask women even though they have much to do (out of consideration)? That is to ask, and let them say no? Saying no on the other hand is not that easy, and it is really difficult and energy consuming to say no. Or is it better not to ask them about these kinds of positions when you know that they have many other things on the agenda?

What do you think would be a good strategy regarding this?

I would suggest that making the process a bit more transparent would help some, and to have some criteria of what kind of background you want a member of the programme board or committee to have. And perhaps asking is better than not asking, even though that would mean that one would say no to offers.

However, gender equality work is tricky and it is not always obvious what would be the right thing to do.



Planning meeting at the NordForsk Centre of Excellence, NordWit

We have just spent two days planning the NordForsk Centre for Excellence. It was indeed a dynamic group of people discussing and very quickly deciding about contract details. Unlike most events I go to his one was women only. A refreshing difference 🙂

The name of the centre will be NordWit, and it will run for five years starting in March. Gabrielle Griffin is the Pi of the centre, and she will lead the work.  The focus of the centre is careers of women om research and knowledge intense areas, and the work is organised in four pillars. The centre will partly work with action research.

I will coordinate work in the eHealth pillar, and I will start my work with doing an interview study with the people who implemented Medical Records online in Sweden.

There will be a kick off event this fall, and more information will come around this. I will let you know for sure 🙂 .

Experiences from an Expert Workshop in the Area of Medical Records Online for Patients

Last week I organised an expert workshop in the area of medical records online for patients. The workshop was organised in conjunction with the EHiN and International Conference of Telemedicine. Around thirty people attended the workshop, mostly from the different regions in Norway. The workshop information was distributed by us and by INERA who coordinate the introduction of medical records online in Sweden.

The photo for the blog post is from Jonas Moll’s Twitter stream and is a photo of the very cool and well organised conference.

Jonas Moll and me from Uppsala University organised the workshop with Norwegian colleagues: Tove Sørensen and Monika A Johansen from the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research, and also with the excellent Isabella Scandurra, who is a Health Informatics Researcher from Örebro University

The workshop started with a description of the service “Patients’ digital access to their health record”: How much information, which type of journal documents, to how many people, for how long time? with a comparison between the different implementations that exist in Sweden and in Norway. One difference is for example that the primary care notes are not shared online in Norway, and another difference is that Norway do share psychiatry medical records online which we don’t do in Sweden.
We continued with a role play to start up the discussion about who should have access. Jonas Moll did the role play together with Isabella Scandurra and me, and the aim was to present the problematic situation that exists for patients since the information that is shown varies very much between counties. Jonas presented his view as a patient and asked about what could be seen online. I pretended to be Uppsala County Council and tried to make Jonas move to our county. During the role play my best argument to him as a patient was the possibility to see the test results online in our county, and to have graphs made that represent the fluctuation of the test results over time.
We then discussed what type of journal documents should be provided. There has been long discussions in Sweden regarding the children’s medical records, and in Norway they have also had discussions about the appropriateness of showing the medical records online for people with cognitive disabilities.

Most probably we will arrange a similar workshop at Vitalis together with INERA to facilitate the discussion around what should be shown and to whom. See you there!

Experiences from Being Made Invisible as a Master Suppression Technique

Some people say that they have never experienced the master suppression techniques. Unfortunately I have 🙁 , and this blog post will be my experiences of “Making invisible”.

I really get so frustrated when “Making invisible” happens, and I have not yet found a way to deal with the situation except for my non-constructive “passive” way of reacting. That is: I am boiling with anger inside, but I don’t tell the person who just completely ignored me, or left me out when mentioning the group or context, and I just stay passive with the feeling of being an impostor. Yesterday this happened again, and in such an alarmingly visible way that I was angry several hours. Hmm. Or the whole evening…

One definition of Making invisible from this web page on master suppression techniques is:

1. Making invisible means to marginalise or exclude a person. For instance, ignoring a person’s point of view and then agreeing when someone else says the same thing. Or that when a person speaks, others start to whisper to their neighbours, browse through papers, go to the toilet, or turn their attention to their mobile phones. Body language can indicate that the person speaking is considered “insignificant”. Not only an individual’s, but an entire group’s interests or experiences can be effectively rendered “invisible”.

My husband Mats Daniels is a successful and very well recognized researcher in computer science education. He is indeed a fantastic person, and we have a very good collaboration. We have worked together for fifteen years, and we have numerous grants, publications and activities in our CV:s that are in common and that we have worked with together.  Sometimes he has been the driver of things, and sometimes it is me. Some of the ideas come from him, and other ideas come from me. Together we are very creative and have lots of fun ideas and many publications and projects.

However, somehow people tend to think that our success stories are mostly the doing of my husband and not me. Some people simply do not see my contribution when I collaborate with my husband, and they see me as dependent on him. However, they have no problems in seeing his contribution! They seem to think that he does all the work, and that I am just tagging along?

One such example is when we were called on stage on a conference with the words:

“We welcome Mats Daniels and his beautiful wife”

So what happened to my identity here? Who I am? I was the beautiful wife, and not a researcher  or professional. We have at least twenty publications together, and they know that work together. My husband tried to laugh about the whole situation, saying that no one would call him “beautiful” – but he also sees the problems.

Yesterday it happened again that someone mentioned our work and left my name out completely. As if my contribution was worth nothing, and my husband is the important person. Which, by the way, I have also experienced in another situation when we were in Madrid. We were sitting around a table talking, and a person stands up and says to the person sitting next to me:

Perhaps we should change seats so that you get to sit next to the important people?

What happened next was that the person sitting next to me stood up and changed seats, so that he would sit closer to the other “more important” people in the group.

I wish I could say that I reacted in some way when this happened, or that someone else reacted. But no, no one said anything and we continued talking about other things. Some people looked a bit surprised, but silently accepted that we would rearrange the group.

Have you been in the same situation? Do you have any tips on how to handle this situation?