Few women find role models in IT

Our article on “Women’s Experience of Role Models in IT” is now published.

Relevant role models are individuals that we can identify with. Our study among women in IT in Norway shows that:

Rolemodels wcMost women identify relevant role models among other women, rather than among men.

Few women identify role models in in fields of information technology.

Many women missed having female role models in IT.

And many found “substitute” role models from other fields, national politics or among networks of female friends.

Female role models are, as one of the women we interviewed said,

“important as a door opener. […] I think that makes things easier. It is not necessary, but it makes things easier.”

You can read the full paper (open access) here, where we present a model of responses reflecting a lack of female role models in IT:  https://www.idunn.no/modeller/18_womens_experience_of_role_models_in_it_landmark_women

Corneliussen, H. G., Seddighi, G., & Dralega, C. A. (2019). Women’s Experience of Role Models in IT: Landmark women, substitutes, and supporters. In Ø. Helgesen, E. Nesset, G. Mustafa, P. Rice, & R. Glavee-Geo (Eds.), Modeller: Universitetsforlaget. DOI: 10.18261/9788215034393-2019-18.

First and second education – routes to IT competence for women

two women smiling to each other
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In our study of women working in technology-driven careers, primarily with IT and digitalization, we have interviewed almost 40 women in Norway. One of our findings show that many women come to work with IT and digitalization via a detour: many of them started with a “gender traditional” education, in humanities, social sciences or healthcare, but then at a later stage changed to IT, or added IT courses to their education. Our findings suggest that this “detour” is related to how girls’ choices and the advices that the young women get from parents, teachers etc., are still to a certain degree guided by gendered stereotypes and seeing IT as a male dominated field. However, when women at a later stage have to relate to IT in working life, also in traditional female dominated fields like health care, they change their view upon IT and what IT represent.

To draw some conclusions from this, first, it is important that girls are introduced early to the wide and varied meanings of IT and digitalization in current working life. Perhaps more girls will choose IT education and find IT related work attractive when it appears in pair with other fields, like ehealth, like we see among the women we have interviewed.

Our study also suggests that continuing education can be an important contribution in providing women with a competence that they to a lesser degree than men acquire through their first educational choices, as women are still a minority among IT students in Norway.

Seminar on Gender Equality in Research and Innovation, 18 Sept 2019

The Nordic countries are often regarded as already gender equal. However, in comparison to gender equality in European research and innovation, we are falling behind. A lack of equality means a loss of resources and diversity in research and innovation. Accordingly, new ways of promoting gender equality are needed in Finland, as well as collaboration between local, national and multi-national actors.

In collaboration with the Council for Gender Equality (TANE), NORDWIT is arranging a seminar on 18 September 2019 in Helsinki on this topic.
Join us in discussing how we can collaborate to promote gender equality in research and innovation!

Seminar Helsinki.jpg

We will hear from both researchers and research and innovation policymakers at the seminar. There will be addresses from national financiers of innovation from both Finland and Sweden, as well as a European perspective and a panel discussing the subject on a regional level.

For more information about the seminar, its programme and registration, please visit the website: https://events.tuni.fi/gender-equality-seminar-18092019-eng/

 

 

Perspectives, reflections, and insights about women and digital work by women in digital work

By Bridgette Wessels

women_in_digital_work
Glasgow Social and Digital Change Group – Women in Digital Work seminar

Current trends such as robotics and autonomous systems and AI deepen the pervasive and ubiquitous presence of the digital in social and work relations.  Although these changes are uneven and are developing in different ways they raise new questions about work as well as asking us to return to older questions and issues.  Gender and technology is one area in which digitalisation relates to how women work, where they work, what they do and how their work is valued.  Questions about how women experience, adapt to, have the power to shape work remain important in the negotiation of new types of work as well as some of the more established types of work. During periods of social and technological shifts, there is often a struggle between continuity and change, adaptation and resistance, hope and despair.  A roundtable event held by the Glasgow Social and Digital Change Group at the University of Glasgow on the 22nd of May 2019 sought to explore the experiences, struggles and negotiations of women currently undertaking digital work and to reflect on these to offer perspectives and insights into women in digital work.  The event was very well attended with not a spare seat in the room. Continue reading “Perspectives, reflections, and insights about women and digital work by women in digital work”

What is our excuse?

photo of a woman holding an ipad
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It is that time of the year again: young men and women are applying for higher education, hopefully many of them excited about the transition to higher education and following their dreams. Close to 60% of all new applicants for higher education in Norway are women, but women are still a minority in IT and technology. There is a tiny improvement from last year’s 24,2% women applying to Information technology degrees, to 26,2% in April 2019 (Samordnaopptak).

Looking at the numbers of female applicants for the Information technology bachelor in the rural region is however depressing: only 1 woman among 20 applicants. Why are there so few women who dream about a future that includes IT competence? And why so few in this region?

Continue reading “What is our excuse?”

Nordwit represented at PhD summer school on computer gaming

hammer-tusk-79755-unsplashÅsa Cajander will be one of the teachers at a PhD 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. Åsa Cajander’s topic for the summer school is on gender equality in academia and the work environment. She will talk about her experiences as a woman in computing, and also some research findings from careers in technology driven areas from the NordWit Centre of Excellence.
You can read more about the summer school here:

Needed: Gender equality experts in academic recruitment committees!

fancycrave-254181-unsplashIn March, I got an opportunity to meet the Young Academies from Baltic and Nordic countries. I was invited to their workshop to introduce our Nordwit NCoE and to talk about gender equality in academia. In my presentation, I presented some of our very tentative observations from the interviews we have made in Finland with women from the fields of bio- and health technology. The interviews are made to understand how women have experienced their working and career possibilities in academia; and why they have decided to either leave the academia or stay in there.

The reasons to leave are quite familiar to all of us working in the current academic reality in the Nordic countries: precariousness, too little time for research, requirement of international researcher mobility. What was surprising to me coming from social sciences, was the impossibility to stay in academia as an independent senior researcher in the fields of STEM and medicine. This means that during or after postdoctoral period, everyone who wants to stay in the academia must establish their own research group and usually collect funding both for themselves and for their group members. It is self-evident that not everyone is lucky or capable of securing this kind of funding.

Among our interviewees are women who have applied and received lots of funding, and who currently employ up to 15 people in their research groups. Still, not all of them have succeeded in the academic recruitments. One aspect of these recruitments is gender, as one of our interviewee who has followed the recruitments from her own permanent position argues:

I think there are these kinds of old boy’s networks. (…) I know very competent women who have left because they feel that they are not chosen to do the responsible jobs that they would like to do, and then some male colleague is chosen who doesn’t have any particular merits why they should choose him.

After my talk, I got really important questions and comments from the audience. One of them was precisely about the recruitments from someone who had been involved in appointment committees. He said that those are really the places to look into. This has been to some extent done by Marieke van den Brink and Yvonne Benschop (2011) in the Netherlands. Their plan was to participate as observers in the selection interviews for full professors but this was denied due to privacy issues. Instead, they analyzed the appointment reports and the interviews they made with members of appointment committee members. Van den Brink and Benschop noticed how “younger candidates with equivalent qualifications” were preferred over older; and these older candidates were more often women since they had more career interruptions than men. Though committees were looking for the most excellent researchers, often the likeability of candidates gave them extra “excellence points”. Men professors gave these points to young male candidates who reminded of themselves. In addition, women could be disqualified because they were “too nice” to make it in the academic game of survival, whereas for men being nice was a merit.

In order to tackle gendered inequalities in academia, the recruitment processes must be transparent, and they need to include experts of gender equality. We can start this first in the fields with persistent gender imbalance in the number of full professors, but all fields should follow. It is unacceptable to have professors in appointment committees, who claim that men are appointed because “Men have been working with men for ages. That is natural. It is easy.” (van den Brink & Benschop 2011, 515).

Tiina Suopajärvi

Reference

Van den Brink, Marieke and Benschop, Yvonne 2011: Gender practices in the construction of academic excellence: Sheep with five legs. Organization 19(4): 507–524.