Category Archives: Uncategorised

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.

Celebrating Finishing my 10th Leadership Course

I have soon finished my 10th leadership course. I have also signed up for the 11th course and awaiting to see if I am accepted.

Why do I want to attend this many leadership courses?

Well, perhaps I am a slow learner? Or perhaps I need more courses in this than an ordinary researcher? Or perhaps I aim for a higher leadership position in Academia? The answer to all these questions is NO. 

The reasons for me to take so many leadership courses are many and here are the most central ones:

  • I change, and my life changes. There is always a new learning experience opportunity. The courses gives be a broader understanding of people and life. I am very interested in understanding people. And I never seem know all there is to know.
  • I deepen my understanding at every course. I can feel as if I am in an unstable state when it comes to some learning experiences. I do understand them at some point, but my understanding is not stable and I haven’t passed the threshold for really knowing them. One such area is for example being a middle manager and handling strange new decisions.
  • I love the discussions with other people that are interesting in leadership. Often leadership courses build on the idea of peer learning, and that works excellently for me!
  • I think that the course give me time to reflect on all kinds of different things.

 

About Talent Management

I have just read a super interesting book that I strongly recommend. The book is called “Talang för människor”. The author, Kajsa Asplund, is a trained psychologist and has a PhD in business administration. Her research at the Stockholm School of Economics focuses on the effects of talent management on employee motivation, self-image and loyalty.

_talang-for-manniskor-psykologin-bakom-framgangsrik-talent-management

Talent management is a phenomenon that includes all kinds of ways an organisation works with attracting, identifying and retaining competent people. It is outside my research, but can be seen as a part of our research on professional competencies. Also,  I am interesting in this book from a leadership perspective.

The book is not about academia  but is more general and when reading about the book I was thinking what the equivalent of “talent management” would be in academia? We have a very harsh culture, very gendered but there are indeed some people that are seen as more talented and get more salary than the rest.

The word talent is used in a variety of ways and can mean all people in an organisation, or just an exclusive few.

Some of the things I found interesting and that I would guess are transferrable to academia are:

  • In the future you need even more enable and empower people – no detailed micro management control.
  • People who are appointed talents in an organisation often experience that their expectations of the organisation increase. Somehow being labelled as a talent in any way makes people aware of the relationship with the organisation: What the work includes and what they get back for example. One interesting possible reaction is working less hard, increased cynicism, negative attitudes. One quite common reaction to being labelled as talent is actually to look for another job!
  • Many who are appointed talents look towards the global  market and start comparing what they have with other “talents” globally.
  • People who are appointed talents often become less motivated by the core business, and look towards management roles instead.

From the book it is clearly possible to say that talent management is complicated and it does not always go hand in hand with an engaged and motivated staff.

 

Interviews with Academic Leaders

I’m attending a leadership programme at the university this spring. This is the 10th leadership course I attend. I really like reflecting on leadership and change management, and I think that I learn new things in every course since life is constantly changing. One day I will be as wise as the owl in the blog post illustration, and those I interviewed are truly my role models and inspiration.

As a part of this course I was given the opportunity to interview three good leaders that I could think of. I chose three that I have as role models in different ways.

A common theme in the interviews I did was feeling safe and leadership. The first person emphasised that we are each other’s work environment linked to feeling safe and secure. It is important to positively give feedback to each other, to create a team feeling and encourage people in everyday life. You need to create a safe environment where people dare to be creative and make mistakes. I think that if people feel insecure, they do not dare to be brave and try to solve challenges or take on new tasks.

Feeling safe is also linked to how mistakes are received, the person I interviewed pointed out, and how to act as a leader when someone makes a mistake. If you see it as an opportunity for learning, you create a safe environment, but if you see mistakes as something consistently negative, you create uncertainty.
Person number two had a different perspective on security and talked a lot about safe relationships, mutual trust and trust. This person told me that you do not always need to be right, but that you should be safe enough to let others be the most knowledgeable and work independently.

In addition, this person pointed out that if you have mutual trust, it means that you do not have detailed control, but trust that people do their best and you hear from them if they need support in any way. In this interview, we also talked about the situation that there is no mutual trust and trust. The interviewee believe that leaders need to accept that it does not always work with mutual trust and trust in all situations. Sometimes the best thing to do is to invest in having a long distance according to the interviewee.

Person number three talked about feeling safe linked to listening, and believes that a consistent theme in successful leadership is to try to understand what the other really mean. This includes trying to be permissive and curious when listening and accepting people as they are through active listening. As leaders, we need to be aware of listening strategies and use methods such as mirroring, follow-up questions and other parts of active listening. In all difficult conversations you need to have a polite tone and be interested in understanding other people’s experiences and perspectives.

You also need to create a feeling of security through participation and equal conditions and not run people over with new decisions – you need to have a culture of participation. This person stressed that you should aim at not seeing the opinions and thoughts of other people as threats, but let things take time in change management.
I think my three leadership interviews were really interesting and educational. And I love management and leadership courses. I have signed up for yet another course this fall. That one is about being the formal leader and has different parts about economy, legal issues etc.

Lecturing about Gender in IT at a PhD Summers School on Virtual Characters & Computer Game Technologies

I have been invited as a teacher to a summer school on Virtual Characters & Computer Game Technologies organised by Animatas.  Animatas is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions project that aims to give researchers the necessary skills and international experience for a successful career. Animatas stands for Advancing intuitive human-machine interaction with human-like social capabilities for education in schools. The summer school is organised by my colleague at the department Ginevra Castillano. 

My topic for the summer school is on gender equality in academia and the work environment, and I will talk about my experiences as a woman in computing and also some things from carreers in technology from the NordWit Centre of Excellence.

You can read more about the summer school here:

http://www.animatas.eu/

 

 

Participated in Panel about AI and Digitalisation and the Impact on Work and Working Life

Several people from my research group participated in a discussion about AI and digitalisation and the impact on work and working life. The picture is from See invitation below:

Inbjudan AI AW 5.4.19

One thing that I found interesting that one person on the panel talked about was that Amazon and Walmart nowadays has stores that eliminates the need for human cashiers, or cash payments. In the Amazon store cameras with computer vision and facial recognition technology in combination with automatic sensors, keep track of the items customers take from shelves. When you are ready to check out they automatically pay with a registered credit or debit card inside the Amazon Go mobile app. For more info see for example: https://www.chainstoreage.com/technology/tech-viewpoint-amazon-vs-walmart-the-battle-of-ai-based-future-store-strategies/

There are indeed success stories related to digitalisation, but another interesting discussion was related to why is so difficult to develop and implement new technology and all the major failures that we face in Sweden. One failure that was mentioned was Arbetsförmedlingen (The Government Organsiation responsibility for work) where 13000 emloyees had their education in the new system, and the plan to save 170 MSEK/year failed completely and ended up in a law suit. See here: https://www.svd.se/it-fiasko-for-arbetsformedlingen

 

Collaboration with Region Uppsala Resulted in Students Presenting at Vitalis

This years’ IT in Society Class got the task from Region Uppsala to look into primary care. Students in this class come from Uppsala University and the highly prestigious Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Anne Peters, Mats Daniels and Åsa Cajander are teachers in Uppsala, and Cary Laxer is the teacher in Indiana. The Rose-Hulman students visit Uppsala twice during the semester and experience snowy Sweden (see picture).

By the end of the semester they submitted an abstract to the peer-reviewed industry conference VITALIS – and they were accepted! The Vitalis conference is the leading eHealth conferences in the Nordic countries with more than 5000 participants who now have the opportunity to meet our students. See you at Vitalis!

Below is the abstract: 

What could a digitalized primary healthcare look like in 2030? This was the question addressed by a group of around 25 computer science students from Uppsala University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the US. To examine this question, they collaborated with healthcare professionals in Region Uppsala. In their semester long project, they researched the current primary healthcare system in order to find digitally related improvements that can impact how healthcare could look like in 2030. The research conducted is human-centered and seeks to define modernization methods that would improve the working situation for the medical professionals, as well as the patients’ experience. To grasp the current workflow in Region Uppsala we conducted a holistic overview from two perspectives: the patient perspective and the healthcare professional’s perspective. We found that the current primary care system has areas of improvement in the fields of User experience and Graphical User interfaces for computer systems that patients and staff members use. We also found that digitized self-assessment and triage is an area that can reduce the workload of the staff and enhance the patient experience.

Our research has also highlighted the need to find new digital tools and adapt the existing digital solutions to provide a better working environment for workers in primary care. This would imply moving away from “pen and papper” analog systems towards a more digitally integrated, cohesive system.

The suggestions that we provide in this presentation are based on sound scientific studies previously conducted and on extensive field interviews with more than 20 involved specialists and data gathering on the current system. We have also conducted two surveys in order to understand how patients feel in regards to the current primary care system and participated in observations to see how primary care professionals operate on a daily basis.

Some of the solutions we propose are:

– the smart, easy to use design of graphical interfaces that also adapt and learn the user’s behaviour to provide ease of access

– adding more real time alternatives to get in touch with medical professionals such as live chat messaging

– using wearable devices to monitor frequent patients’ clinical measurements

– modernizing the analog areas of the current system with the help of new technologies.

Looking forward into the future, we have ideas of how a future system could look like in 2030. The areas of improvement are relying on the continuous development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, all integrated to reiterate our objective: an efficient, human-centered primary care. We hope that these improvements would lead to a better medical system and change society for the better.

Public Seminar about Digitalisation and the Work Environment

A few weeks ago I did a public seminar related to digitalisation and the work environment at Tierp library. I talked about the very techno positive culture that we have in Sweden, and that people seem to think that with digitalisation we solve all problems. We will be more efficient, human errors will disappear and work will be based on rational processes. Examples of very successful IT systems are for example Watson to support decisions in health care and robots for surgery.

However, there is also another very parallel story to this. A story about how seldom IT projects are successful, and how often large IT projects fail completely. And a story about how much money that costs every year (44 billion SEK in 2016 according to Unionen).

There is also a story about people in different organisations who feel frustrated over their jobs, who lose the feeling of satisfaction and joy from working and some even burn out. We need to digitalise with human beings in mind. Digitalisation of work needs to include ideas of how to create a good and motivating work situation.

I think that the small audience that listened were very interested and gave many good examples from their work situation.

Welcome to an International Summer School in User Centred Design and Health & Wellbeing in Finland

Welcome to an international course on interaction design!

I am co-organising a summer school together with a group of Nordic researchers.

This Nordplus funded class brings together practitioners, students, and teachers from Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, and Sweden to gain a higher level of digital literacy. The course provides the basic skills in user-centred, hands-on interaction design during two intensive weeks, including Google Design Sprint.

Experimental Interaction Design
29 July – 9 August, 2019
Aalto University, Finland (www.aalto.fi)

Applications deadline: 31 March
Acceptance notifications: 19 April
More information: https://blogs.aalto.fi/ixd19/

For questions, please contact:
Ilja Šmorgun, Lecturer of Interaction Design, Tallinn University ilja.smorgun@tlu.ee

Welcome!