“You got my mind and body – you are not going to get my soul”

huiputuksen-moraalijarjestysThese words by Jill Blackmore (2017) open a new Finnish-language volume Huiputuksen moraalijärjestys (The moral order of top performativity) that came out this week. The editors Karin Filander, Maija Korhonen and Päivi Siivonen emphasize that this phrase captures the Zeitgeist of the current working life which glorifies top individuals, top teams and top results. Since the top can be reached only by few, the rest become categorized as failures, useless and unfit. The book criticizes the excessive demands directed to individuals and explores the affective implications of the working conditions under which nothing is enough.

The editors consider the current entrepreneurial university as a Mecca for the constantly increasing pressures and demands of working life. The rhetoric of world-class, excellence and cutting-edge has become overpowering and pervasive in academia. This has alluring and seducing features – who wouldn’t want to be excellent and successful. At the same time, it enforces adaptation to externally imposed success criteria and creates a normative ideal that is extremely difficult for anybody to attain.

The harsh university reality has become obvious also in our interviews with Finnish female academics in bio and health technology. The excessive demands have been one of the key reasons why some of our interviewees have left academia. Although they love research work, they are not willing to give their whole life to it.

Moving out is one option to try to escape the massive requirements in academia but then again, the question arises whether it is any better elsewhere. The book chapters tell about gloomy stories of unemployment, burn-out and mental health problems, among other things, outside the research and innovation field too. Therefore, it would be crucial to develop working life in general into a more human and sustainable direction.

Oili-Helena Ylijoki


Blackmore, Jill 2017. Gender work and entrepreneurial universities: from a gift to a gig economy. Presentation at a research seminar, 31.8.2017, Tampere University.

Filander, Karin, Korhonen, Maija & Siivonen, Päivi (eds.) 2019. Huiputuksen moraalijärjestys. Tampere: Vastapaino.

New project on work environment, well-being and gender


In the spring a gender mainstreaming and work environment project (WONDER) was internally funded by Uppsala University. The project is called WONDER (WOrk eNvironment aND wEllbeing) and is an organisational development project, closely connected to the work done in Nordwit on women’s careers in technology intense areas. In the 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 from a gender perspective.

The project is running at the department of information technology, and the division of Vi2. The project team consists of Åsa Cajander from Nordwit and her colleagues Robin Strand (head of division), Ginevra Castellano (the Equal Opportunities Officer at the Department) and PhD. Giulia Perugia.

In October 2019 the project organised a retreat at Krusenbergs Herrgård with the help of an occupational health expert. We discussed and learned about work environment issues in academia during two days. An unusual amount of people signed up for the retreat where the expert Anders Herrman from Previa held seminars and discussions with us. Some of the things that were discussed was work load, work culture and strategies to cope with work overload. There will also be a follow up seminar from Previa and Anders Herrman in November. The team got some homework to do before this follow-up session.

The project  will also organise additional seminars at the department about gender mainstreaming and the work environment. One seminar will be on work environment and the use of mail by Magdalena Stadin in  December, another will be of gender in academia by Annelie Häyrén from the Centre for Gender Studies in March 2020. We will also organize more seminars later on in the spring 2020.

In the project we will evaluate and assess + improve our work environment from a gender perspective. In this work we focus on gender budgeting. In this work we will first look into allocation of office space from a gender perspective,  and Åsa Cajander has started looking into this through reading research papers, and talking to people at the division about hierarchies and office space allocation. Based on this I will do an evaluation of the office spaces at the division, and present this in a short report and at a seminar.

In the spring 2020 this work will be followed by an evaluation of time allocation and resources from a gender perspective.

Many people suffer from stress and we need to improve well-being in academia – especially for women who are more likely to suffer from stress. The WONDER project is an attempt to move things one step in the right direction!

Åsa Cajander


Great ways of working

ImageWe have just had our annual Nordwit Centre meeting which also involves our Scientific Advisory Board members Prof Yvonne Benschop (Radebout), Prof Julia Nentwich (St Gallen) and Prof Thorgerdur Einarsdottir (Reykjavik). We had asked these first-rate people to give a 20-minute talk of their work in progress – and we had such lively and interesting discussions following on from this that we spent significantly more time than we had intended on this. They talked eloquently and wittily about ‘Gender practices in recruitment and selection of early career researchers’ (Benschop), ‘Leaders of equality: Male managers struggling with hegemonic masculinity’ (Nentwich), and ‘Gendering the money: GARCIA & ACT’ (Einarsdottir). Distinguishing between gendered practices and the gendering of practices, Yvonne showed how easy it is to introduce gender bias through how male and female candidates are treated differently in the post-interview discussions of the interview committee where, even when 6 selection committees had expressed preferences for appointing a woman, still 5 out of 6 appointed a man. Julia discussed how difficult men who profess to champion equality find it to deal with hegemonic masculinities, their own and others’. And Thorgerdur analysed how one might do gender budgeting in different and revealing ways. We all loved the talks and discussions formats, and are going to continue this – even if gender equality seems worryingly elusive. Still: steady drip hollows the stone!

Gabriele Griffin

What are the gender implications of Triple Helix innovation model?


In the beginning of this month, I participated in a Triple Helix workshop called “Soft Sciences Boosting SMEs’ business” at Tampere University. Triple Helix refers to a model where innovation becomes generated through the collaboration between research institutes, public sector and industry. In the workshop, the distinguished Triple Helix scholar Professor Henry Etzkowitz from Standford University explained how the model had started in USA with strong emphases on technology. He continued that recently there has been more and more interest in a collaboration where scholars from human and social sciences as well as artists would work together with other two helixes. Though the need for a new kind of cooperation is noticed the money is still often channeled to the STEM fields.

The workshop continued with a panel discussion where Etzkowitz was joined by Johanna Kujala from Tampere University, Seppo Haataja from the city of Tampere, and Jesse Wessman from local intermediary organization Demola. They highlighted the advantages of Finnish society and culture for multi-sectorial cooperation, namely high trust and low barriers between institutions and organizational actors. They saw Tampere, which is a middle-sized Finnish city with 250 000 inhabitants, as big enough place for R&I collaboration and simultaneously small enough place to be agile in competition.

From Nordwit’s perspective this is an interesting Nordic aspect that we consider in our studies especially since some of our interviewees in Tampere from R&I argue that in local circles the same R&I people meet over and over again. In the workshop, the panel moderator Markku Sotarauta stated that the high-trust in Nordic countries can lead to deadlocks both in thinking and in practices. In Nordwit, we continue this discussion by asking what kinds of gender impacts our local Triple Helix contexts and histories create, and how do they affect women’s career trajectories. As Malin and Monica Lindberg and Johann Packendorff (2014, 95) write “Triple Helix innovation systems tend to emphasise and sustain traditional masculine notions of entrepreneurship and innovation―not least since publicly supported Triple Helix initiatives also tend to be situated within the male-dominated settings of networks and industries.”

Tiina Suopajärvi





Lindberg, Malin, Lindberg, Monica & Packendorff, Johann 2014: Quadruple Helix as a Way to Bridge the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship: The Case of an Innovation System Project in the Baltic Sea Region. Journal of Knowledge Economy 5: 94–113.



‘We have been harmonized’: Cultural specificities in research and innovation

One of my recent reads has been Kai Strittmatter’s We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State (Exeter: Old Street Publishing, 2019). It provides an illuminaring account of how China as a state uses new technologies and social media to ‘harmonize’ its citizens by clamping down on their online activities, including long lists of words are forbidden to be used in social media, for example, etc. We Have Been Harmonized reminds us of the uses and abuses to which online media can be put. In western countries such as Sweden we do not escape such surveillance, but our relatively high-trust environments lead us to assume that little or no harm will come our way from the commercialized (and state) surveillance we already submit to, and which we see evidenced in the ads directed at us when we go online. The point: more critical digitality is necessary to enable all of us to take a more critical stance towards our online lives and to, for example,the acceptance of cookies that we are now always asked to agree to, and which we frequently do, without having read what we are actually agreeing to.

Gabriele Griffin 

When will we reach gender balance in ICT?

Involving more women in ICT is important for many reasons, and one of them is the growing importance of ICT competence across sectors and industries. ICT specialists are on top of the EU’s skills-shortage list, and the low proportion of women choosing ICT education and work has been identified as one of the reasons for a growing gap between demand and supply of ICT specialists (EIGE). This is the case also for Norway, where women make up less than 25% of ICT specialists.

Sognefjorden, Norway. Photo by Hilde G. Corneliussen

We wanted to know more about how companies and employers for ICT specialists in Norway work with gender equality and improving the gender balance in ICT. We invited 12 organizations from different sectors and industries that had in common that they were all involved in ICT research, development and innovation, to meetings for discussing gender equality in ICT work. None of the organizations had many female ICT specialists (some had none), and they all recognized the need to recruit women to ICT. But we also observed many alternative ways of seeing the situation. We experienced some of these alternative ways of understanding the situation (few women in ICT), the goal (more women in ICT) and the explanations that followed, as a form of “resistance”. Continue reading “When will we reach gender balance in ICT?”

Feminist Encounters in Research and Innovation

Feminist Encounters

Feminist Encounters is a UK based, peer reviewed, international journal. Its final issue in 2021 will be titled ‘Feminist encounters in research and innovation’, and a call will go out in early 2020 for papers under this heading. The journal allows a generous 8000-9000 words all-in per article and we shall be looking for around 10-12 contributions.

This will provide great opportunities to discuss all kinds of issues in research and innovation from a feminist perspective: from the gendered impacts of technologization on women’s work and position in the labour market, to female entrepreneurship, to shifts in research and innovation policies and practices in contemporary political times, to…

Time to start thinking about your contribution!