Workshops on gender in research and innovation have started

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We are living exciting times in the Finnish Nordwit team: during the winter and spring 2020 we are organizing a series of workshops for promoting gender equality in research and innovation in one of the research-intensive regions in Finland. The regional development agency, university (including Marja Vehviläinen and myself from the Nordwit team) and the local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment are collaborating on organizing the workshops and we have already organized one on the current state of gender equality in the regional research and innovation activities. There is also national interest in the process, since the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is participating the planning and realization of the workshops.

The workshop started with presentations on gendered careers in technology, gender in research and innovation, gender equality in academia and gender and regional development.  The workshop was also a platform for joint discussions: One of the main arguments was that gender relevance should be made visible for different stakeholders and that we need to create ways – as financers, government officials, researchers, entrepreneurs and others – to recognize gender relevance and ideally tie it to regional aims and needs.

The future workshops will take a closer look at how gender equality could be more strongly incorporated into the research and innovation activities by considering gender aspects of financed projects and the whole innovation ecosystem. The specifics of those workshops are under ongoing planning, since each workshop is informed by the previous one(s). Local tools for promoting gender equality and best practices are themes likely to stay on the agenda throughout the workshop series.

Minna Leinonen

Gender, Work and Organization

The Gender, Work and Organization Conference, held at Kent University 24-26 June this year, is now open for registration.

Nordwit will be well represented at this event. Hilde Corneliussen and Minna Salminen Karlsson from Nordwit are running a stream on “Rural Frontiers In-between Tradition and Change: Gender, Work and Organization in Rural Contexts”, and other Nordwit members are giving papers in a range of streams.

It’s going to be an exciting event!

Gabriele Griffin

“Do we really need more women in ICT?”

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

This question – “Do we really need more women in ICT?” – appears in a recent article by Gilda Seddighi and myself. In this article we analyze how the ICT industry and ICT workplaces in Norway deal with challenges of recruiting women to ICT work. The question is not ours, but from one of the ICT experts that we interviewed for this case study, and it appeared in a discussion about whether women were really interested in ICT. This discussion and the quote illustrate how gendered stereotypes suggesting that men are more interested in ICT are still active in shaping attitudes towards and engagement in activities to recruit women. Only about one in four working as ICT experts in Norway are women, and this feeds the discourse of ICT as a male field. Reflecting this, the ICT workplaces we talked with produced a series of alternative ways of seeing the need to recruit women, all of which contributed to reducing the importance of active recruitment initiatives.

You can read the article for free (in Norwegian) here: https://www.idunn.no/tfk/2019/04/maa_vi_egentlig_ha_flere_kvinner_i_ikt

Title: “Do we really need more women in ICT?” Discursive negotiations about gender equality in ICT

Abstract

ICT is one of the most gender-divided fields in Norway and illustrates the “Nordic Gender Paradox”, referring to a mismatch between a high level of participation by women in working life in parallel with a strong gendering of disciplines and professions. A higher proportion of women in ICT professions is a goal that is particularly relevant due to increasing digitalization. This article builds on qualitative empirical material and analyzes meetings with 12 organizations that were invited to discuss gender equality in ICT work. The analysis explores how the discourse of gender equality in ICT is perceived in the organizations and how this affects attitudes to practical gender equality work. Ten alternative approaches to gender equality in ICT are identified. These can be analyzed as discursive practices that articulate “resistance” as alternative meanings that challenge the discourse of gender equality in ICT, as they renegotiate, redefine and, in some cases, reject the discourse. Recruitment of women to ICT work is a task left to the individual organizations. The authors claim that there are still gendered perceptions of who is appropriate for ICT work, and these perceptions do not motivate the organizations to engage in gender equality work.

How to quote: Corneliussen, H. G., & Seddighi, G. (2019). “Må vi egentlig ha flere kvinner i IKT?” Diskursive forhandlinger om likestilling i IKT-arbeid. Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning, 43(4), 273-287.

What does innovation look like?

What does innovation look like? I’m in Santiago in Chile at a workshop at the Catholic University discussing the co-production of gender and knowledge norms. At the entrance of their San Joaquim campus is this amazing bunker-like building – the Innovation building. It looks quite forbidding, the outside seems both very closed off and somehow un-in-viting. It is not clear if you are meant to enter. It represents the very opposite of what I associate with innovation: openness, networking, fluidity. Instead it appears static, quasi-brutalist in style, and highly masculinized. The interior is in many ways not much different: closed-off blocks of wood-and-glass cabinets, a sort of display unit. And on the outside of course – since this is the Catholic University and hence predictably full of depictions of religious figures, is the figure of Jesus pointing. So what is the relation between religion and creativity, or maybe between religion and creation? The connection here is made partly through the monumentalism, partly through the colour – all grey. Is this how we imagine innovation?

Gabriele Griffin

Call for submissions to EASST/4S Prague 2020

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The next EASST/4S conference (European Association for the Study of Science and Technology + Society for Social Studies of Science) will be held in Prague 18-21 August 2020. The theme is “Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds,” looking back at the major shifts in the past years that create feelings of urgency, unease and confusion.

Nordwit will be represented in the section “Gender/Sexuality/Feminist STS” with the open panel Old Academics and Emerging Worlds: Feminist Encounters in Changing STS Contexts, and we warmly invite you to submit papers to this panel!

The due date is 29 Feb and you are asked to produce a 250-word abstract.

Read more about the panel below, or visit the website for more information on how to apply.

125. Old Academies and Emerging Worlds: Feminist Encounters in Changing STS Contexts

Gabriele Griffin, Uppsala University; Marja Vehviläinen, Tampere University

The notion of emerging worlds is frequently associated with the global South, so-called ‘third world’ countries, and dys- or utopian imaginaries. This – at times conveniently – ignores the fact that academies in the global North harbour within them emerging worlds in the form of emerging disciplines, through the impact of technologization on data and knowledge production, and through the changing socio-political and economic contexts in which these academies operate. STS itself constitutes an emerging world in that its methods and objects of study have changed significantly over time and continue to do so.

In this panel we explore the gendered dis/continuities arising from academies engaging with the emerging worlds within them in the form of new disciplines such as Digital Humanities, eHealth, and new forms of research and innovation, which in turn challenge conventional STS through their claims in relation to both science and technology.

We invite contributions on topics such as:

  • How does gender play out in the emerging worlds of new disciplines in old academies?
  • How do emerging disciplines challenge gendered STS epistemologies?
  • How does the meeting of academies from different parts of the world challenge gendered notions of STS knowledge production?
  • What is the impact of the technologization of academic disciplines on the disciplines’ genderization?
  • What is the relation between emerging disciplines, gender, and STS?
  • How are notions of gender in the academy impacted by emerging disciplines?
  • How does STS relate to the issue of gender relative to feminism?

Contact: gabriele.griffin@gender.uu.se

Keywords: emerging disciplines, gendered innovations, feminist interventions, technologization

 

 

Have things changed during the 2010s?

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Now that 2019 is coming to an end, it is not only a year but a whole decade we can look back to. When it comes to women in technology – has any progress been made? Statistics Sweden provides easily accessible statistics on a general level. If we compare 2009 and 2018 or 2019 (depending on how fresh statistics are provided) we can see that:

The percentage of women taking the advanced master of engineering (civilingenjör) degree has actually gone up some: from 28% in 2009 till 35% in 2019. However, the percentage of women taking a bachelor of engineering (högskoleingenjör) has remained almost the same (28% to 27%). It seems that those women who decide to go into technology are those who have good theoretical skills and prefer the office, rather than what can be perceived as technology work closer to practical implications.

Another table, which does not give the exams achieved each year, but the educational level in the population in numbers, shows that the working age population having higher education in “technology and production” has increased with 25% during the last decade. Women have increased their numbers with 50%, compared to men’s 20%. When only looking at the younger workforce (up to 44 years), both men and women born abroad increase their numbers at a much higher rate than native born Swedes. In particular the women born abroad seem to have detected technology. Compared to 2009, there are now 75% more women born abroad with a technical education. Even men born abroad increasingly acquire technical education, their numbers have gone up 60% in ten years. So, the rescue for our dearth of engineers may come from what are commonly perceived as the suburban immigrant ghettos.

How about the salaries? In October 2019, our media reported that newly examined female masters of engineering now had lower first salaries than their male peers – after several years of closing the gender pay gap, it seems that it was widening again. That development does not (yet?) show in the salary statistics available from Statistics Sweden. There, female engineers almost invariably have earned and continue to earn about 86-92% of the salaries of their male colleagues. However, it seems that among graduates from new, more transdisciplinary engineering programmes, as well as biotechnology, the gender pay gap is diminishing.

While the 2010’s seem not to have been that bad for technology, still another table in Statistics Sweden gives me, as a citizen, worried creases on my forehead. Here, employers tell whether the competence pool for their needs is sufficient or not. While 19% of employers in 2009 told that there was a lack of newly examined engineers, the percentage had risen to 45% in 2019. Obviously, we need more engineers. However, we need healthcare staff even more: 76% of those who employ nurses told that there is a dearth of newly examined nurses. And the situation does not seem to improve: while the number of people with a degree in technology has increased with 25% in ten years, the number of people with a degree in healthcare has increased only by 17%.

As a Nordwit project member, I’m all for improving the gender balance and women’s working conditions in technology. As a citizen, dependent on our Scandinavian publicly financed healthcare, I’m very thankful that not all the women (and men) follow the calls to become engineers and work with technology, but that some also choose to work with the immediate welfare of the citizens. Technology should and could be more attractive to more women – but this aim needs to be balanced by making different care professions more attractive to men. Technical inventions and economic growth  are not enough to create well-fare.

Minna Salminen Karlsson

Re-Thinking Research and Innovation: How Does Gender Matter?

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This is the question we will be tackling at the Riksbanken funded workshop we shall be running on 25-27 February 2020. In our Nordwit Centre’s work, we have been addressing this question for some time, and it has also been at the heart of discussions in the Gender and Innovation Network in Sweden of which we are a part. So we are truly delighted that Riksbankens Jubileumsfond has given us the money to explore this issue further.

The genderization of research and innovation has many dimensions. For one thing, it includes the wholly under-researched poor completion rates for female doctoral students in the Nordic countries – e.g. according to the Higher Education in Sweden Report 2018, of 2009 female PhD study entrants only 23% of female Humanities PhDs had completed their PhDs after 5 years. These women who are the potential future researchers and innovators seriously lag behind but we don’t know why. And this is just one very small dimension of the question of gender in research and innovation. So roll on 2020!

Gabriele Griffin