Category Archives: gender equality

Our Working With Gender Equality at the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University

We work with gender equality in a very structured way at our department. The gender equality group consists of very enthusiastic and hard-working people.

My colleague Virginia Grande has written a blog post about our work, and we agreed to put it on my blog too to spread the word to those who are interested in working with gender equality. The post was originally posted here.


Working for gender equality in IT at a departamental level: the case of Uppsala University

Sweden is often regarded as one of the paradises of gender equality. If you live in this country, it is not usual to find yourself explaining to those who are just visiting – or simply curious – one thing: that yes, Sweden does stand out for its successful efforts towards gender equality but… it is still a work in progress. It is not yet the time when gender issues have been solved and left behind. Far from dwelling on its success, Sweden continues to look at what else can be done. Notice that I do not say “Swedes”. I rather refer to those of us working in Sweden, regardless of the nationality.

So I was not surprised when I learned that our Department of IT at Uppsala University has a Gender Equality Group (GEqG), which counts with the support of the Head of Department. It becomes harder to stay nonchalant when one learns that the group counts with a significant budget. This includes the funding of 10% of the time of a senior researcher who acts as Gender Equality Officer. Since Åsa Cajander took this role and started leading the group, the success of the GEqG has skyrocketed. This has been a team effort, with excellent contributions from many! Here I describe my experience as a member of this group and what I believe has been key to the positive impact of the GEqG.

The GEqG is led by the Gender Equality Officer and includes representatives of different sectors of the department. There is one representative for each of the research divisions, the Technical and Administrative (TA) Personnel, the PhD students at the department (which has been my role from this September), and the student body. The Head of Department appoints the Secretary. Throughout the academic year, the GEqG meets once a month with a theme for each meeting. We also have informal meetings in the coffee room, sometimes also with a theme, e.g., the trigger warnings phenomenon.

The group meetings are open to everyone interested, so we often count with students and employees from both our and other departments. They come to discuss their projects and ideas. Some of these are the result of the GEqG’s calls for funding in different areas: visiting female researcher, gender and transgender related education, organizing events related to gender equality, and development projects related to gender equality. Everyone at the department, staff and students alike, are encouraged to apply.

We also count with researchers such as Nina Almgren, Minna Salminen-Karlsson and Ulrike Schnaas who have collaborated with us to broaden our knowledge on gender equality. This has been possible thanks to the support of the FESTA project, that ran between the years 2013-2016. We have had seminars on topics such as research excellence and gender, inclusive supervision, and resistance to change when working on gender equality.

The planning and execution of all this work heavily relies on an initiative introduced when Åsa Cajander took over the leadership of the group: the organization of a retreat in the fall (one in 2015 and one in 2016) at Krusenberg Herrgård, Uppsala.

Outside our meeting rooms at Krusenberg

This retreat, as I see it, has two main goals. It is for the GEqG to:

  • plan our strategy for 2016 or 2017 (explicit goal)
  • strengthen the existing team and facilitate the integration of new members (implicit goal)

It is clear for our group that the latter is essential for the former. So this is what our Gender Equality Officer has in mind when designing the agenda for these meetings.

The retreat starts with a lunch where we can informally meet other members. After that, we use affinity diagrams to discuss what could be improved about the work in the year ending, and what we should keep and work towards to for the coming year. The use of this technique made it possible for everyone to voice (or rather, initially “write”) their opinions. All participants read and discuss where they think the efforts of the group should focus, and how to make use of the previous year’s experience. I am a firm believer that here relies the strength of this group: everyone has plenty of opportunities to express their opinions and concerns, and work in whichever areas suit their interests and motivation best (more of that below!).

After using affinity diagrams to analyze the current ending year, we look at actions for the next one. Both of these processes involve looking at our Gender Equality Plan (for 2016 or, in this case, 2017). Our 2016 and 2017 plans have the following focus areas:

  1. A Better Understanding of the Gender Situation of Technical and Administrative (TA) Personnel
  2. Gender Equality Aware Education that Creates a Better Learning Environment for All
  3. Better PhD Student Education for All
  4. Supporting Women in Post Doc-, Associate Senior Lecturers- or Senior Lecturers positions.
  5. Enhance Capacity of the Gender Equality Group to Work as Change Agents


Each member of the GEqG volunteers for one of the tasks included in these areas. In my case, this year I will be involved in activities regarding 3). We have sessions planned on harassment and gender issues awareness, mental health, etc. These sessions will be part of events that already gather a significant number of PhD students, such as the annual ski trip organized by the department. I believe it is also important to notice how these 5 areas comprise the different kinds of employees and students that we have at the department. It was thanks to having such diversity within the GEqG that the need to address concerns from all these different groups was pointed out.

As for 5), a great example was the presentation that Nina Almgren gave at our latest retreat. She discussed their work at the FESTA project dealing with resistance, both active and passive. We had the chance to analyze different scenarios were resistance was being offered by different stakeholders, and we discussed how we could proceed if we found ourselves in this kind of situation. If you have worked with gender equality, you know this is bound to happen! She also explained how the new Swedish law related to discrimination would affect our work.

I firmly believe that the model that the GEqG represents is a successful one that should be implemented in more departments of IT in universities. You can read more about the group here. If you would like to further discuss my experience to consider how this could be done in your institution, you are very welcome to contact me!

I am a Part of the New Nordic Centres to Solve the Nordic Gender Paradox

I am a part of the team lead by Professor Gabriele Griffin, Uppsala University who got funding for working in a Nordic Centre of Excellence to solve the nordic gender paradox.  I will work at this centre of excellence around 20% of my time for five years.

This will be such a great learning experience for me to work with eHealth, which is one of my research areas, and collaborate closely with gender researchers. I think that this collaboration will also give synergies to my research area as a whole, and to my work with gender equality. I am really happy to be a part of this effort! 🙂

You are right though, gender has not been a part of my quite broad research area so far. 😮 . However, I have been interested in gender ever since I was a student, and I wrote two of my master level essays in the area of gender and literature. I have also worked closely, and thrived from, collaboration with the excellent Nina Almgren and Minna Salminen Karlsson in the FESTA project a couple of years.  And I have one publication on inclusive supervision with Ulrike Schnaas. And since a couple of years I work as the Gender Equality Officer at the department of Information Technology, and in this role I have read and followed research on gender in academia.

The centre will work with action research and explore women careers in technology-driven work environments. It has four main research pillars, one of which is eHeath in which I will work.

Surely, there will be more to come about this new exciting Centre of Excellence!

Reflections from Listening to a Seminar on Gender in Academia

Even though there is a larger number of women studying at the university, and PhD students, there is only about 25% female full professors in Sweden. This is problematic from many perspectives.  One of the consequences is quality of academic work since there are lots of brilliant women who don’t contribute to research.

Today there is a strong focus on gender en academia in Sweden. The government has given the universities a task to integrate gender equality and perhaps things will happen now?

I work as the gender equality officer at the Department of Information Technology, so working with this is a part of my job (10%). As you might know, I work in the area of computer science where there are very few women today.
I am extremely proud of our work with gender equality. The gender equality group has an excellent plan for their work that might inspire others. We have gotten lots of help from the FESTA project in writing this one. Thanks Nina! Have a look at our plan and be inspired

I listened to this panel from Almedalen called “from decision to change” (in Swedish) and here are some of my reflections:

1) The paradox of meritocracy – we all believe that we evaluate men and women objectively and fair. We don’t according to many, many research studies. We need to be more aware of our gender bias, and see to it that we educate the recruitment groups in this area.

2) We need better and more transparent rubrics for assessment for academic positions. My experience is that the rubric for assessment of teaching skills is much more elaborated than the assessment of scientific skills. My experience is also that people tend to believe that it is the other way around!

3) The term innovation that is used by for example Vinnova is very gender coded and affects who applies for those money.

4) Women leave academia due to a crappy work environment, whereas men leave academia since they got a good job. This has to change, as with the help of initiatives such as the FESTA project. More of these kinds of projects need to be funded.




Paper in Special Issue on PhD Student Supervision

PhD supervision is a complex phenomenon that is addressed in a special issue on PhD supervision in Tidskriften Utbildning och lärande. I have read the special issue, and it is well worth the time. 🙂

Ulrike Schaas and I have collaborated around one of the papers in the journal. The title of the paper is “Peer reflection on inclusive supervision – a study circle as a space for collegial learning”

The paper presents a new form of learning opportunities for PhD supervisors where peer learning is a central concept. Ulrike Schaas has written about the pedagogic underpinnings of the study circle, and presents the facilitator’s perspective whereas I participated in the study circle and present the learner’s perspective.

For further details, read the paper!


Developing Inclusive PhD Supervision Skills Through Collegial Learning

Now our journal paper on development of inclusive supervision skills through collegial learning is published.  It will appear in a special issue on PhD supervision in the journal “Utbildning och Lärande / Education and Learning”, ISSN 2001-4554. Some of the ideas in the paper are:

  • PhD supervision plays an important role when promoting gender equality in academia.
  • It is important to create a good work environment for PhD students.
  • Collegial learning can be one way of improving your supervision skills.
  • More opportunities for progression of supervision skills are needed


The paper also gives some ideas on how to arrange learning opportunities for PhD supervisors.


Gender Equality in Academia at the FESTA Conference in Uppsala

I am the gender equality officer at the department of IT at Uppsala University where I work. This is asquare-peg-855294__180 challenging and exciting job, and I learn new things in the area every day. This week I attended the FESTA conference on gender in academia. FESTA is a large (enormous?) project related to gender in academia and you find many good resources on their web page.

From this conference I learned many things, but the most prominent where:

  1. Women need to be better at networking and visibility. This resulted in me starting this blog 🙂
  2. ERC grant writing seems to be a great learning experience, and I will start doing an application after the summer. 😮
  3. Monitoring of change when working with gender equality seems to be very related to my gender equality group’s work – but difficult to launch in practice?  Can I make use of this?

Key Note On Equality in Academia at the WomENcourage conference in 2015

In October 2015 I did a key note on being a woman in a male dominated field. I talked about the imposture syndrome (ie. the feeling of being fake) and harassment techniques.

womencourage 2015

How do you succeed in the area of computer science? My research has shown that having grit is more important than IQ or any other personality trait, and that grit together with the student’s overall view of success matters the most. If you work hard, and do not give up when it is really tough, then you are likely to have a good career in any subject, including computer science. However, if you are a woman in computer science success also correlates to you handling the male dominated field, and being the token figure. This can be seen as another kind of grit. The norm of the field is connected to the computer science nerd who has no interests but technology, and that this personality trait is required to be a part of the community. In this keynote I will tell some of my stories about how it is to be a woman in the field, and give some insights into the kind of grit that it requires to be a successful token figure.

There is an interview with me found here:

The key note is found here

Workshop on Inclusive Supervision and Poster at NU 2016


Next week I am attending the NU 2016 conference in Malmö.

I am organising a workshop together with colleagues on inclusive supervision, and we will present and discuss a toolkit for Inclusive PhD supervision developed by the FESTA project. The workshop will include a role play as well as a discussion about the implementation of the toolkit in organisations.

I will also present a poster on a pedagogic development project related to the development of a framework for professional competencies.

Below is a picture of the printed tools from the toolkit

workshop på NU