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!

Equality in the newly formed Tampere University

Author: Liekki Valaskivi

Liekki conversation

I have a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology and am only a matter of weeks away from completing my master’s degree in gender studies. I have read my fair share of feminist theory and have adopted the epistemological stance that all knowledge and knowledge production is necessarily subjective, culturally and temporally situated (see for e.g. Haraway, 1991). Science, as I understand it, has the responsibility not only to produce new knowledge, but also to critically examine that knowledge and the conditions and processes in which it was produced, in order to minimize the effect of cultural bias and socioeconomic privilege.

I have, however, the good fortune of being close friends with an engineering student, and over the past year or so, we have had many fascinating discussions about epistemology and the philosophy of science, and I have come to understand just how foreign human sciences are to those who primarily deal in the natural sciences and technology. Continue reading “Equality in the newly formed Tampere University”

And now for something completely different…

Publishing is one of those things many academics do as part of their daily job, but the details and mechanics of it – beyond the question of where and/or with which publisher one publishes – are often not discussed. The question of indexing one’s volume (an issue for those in disciplines where publishing books is part of the norm), for example, raises its head at the end of a long process when one’s work has gone into production. For a long time it has been common to ask authors if they want to index their own work, or have it done professionally (set off against any royalties, which are mostly negligible). Indexing can be time-consuming so the latter option often seems sensible.

Closeup of antique books educational, academic and literary concept

However, for the first time I have just encountered a serious academic press, Manchester University Press, stating that it is no longer providing indexing services. Now authors has to secure such services which typically apparently cost £350-£500, themselves. So, not only do authors do all their work for the publishers (the researching, writing and preparing of the book) themselves in advance and without remuneration (their ‘research’ time usually not covering that activity, however vital it is for the ranking of their institution); they now also have to organize, and pay out of their own pockets (or via their institutions) for, indexing. One wonders what book publishers actually do . . . Authors, beware!

Gabriele Griffin

Gender Equality in Research and Innovation: A Brilliant High-Level Seminar

TANE seminar
Seminar on gender equality in research and innovation. Photo: TANE

On 18 September Marja Vehviläinen from Tampere University and her team there, together with Hannele Varsa of TANE, the Finnish Council for Gender Equality, hosted a high-level seminar involving representatives from the Finnish regions, from Nordic national innovation and research funders, and from NGOs in debates about gender equality in research and innovation. The event was part of the work conducted by Nordwit, our Nordforsk-funded Centre of Excellence looking at women in technology-driven careers.

The seminar highlighted prominently the different ways in which policy makers within the Nordic countries but also beyond seek to address gender imbalances in research and innovation, from the very structured process-oriented view of the Swedish funder Vinnova to a more diversity-oriented approach by Business Finland. Regional difficulties were made apparent in debates that indicated how European structural funds favour male-dominated industries with the effect that female-dominated ones that are equally necessary in the regions such as care and social work are not supported through those funds. Innovation is thus often already gendered through the very policies that are intended to encourage economic change. The entanglement of economic with social change remains a fraught phenomenon – more research, please!

Gabriele Griffin

Where the young women go…


On 18 September a major conference on Gender Equality in Research and Innovation was held at the Music Centre in Helsinki. The afternoon was devoted to questions of research and innovation in different Finnish regions whilst the morning was devoted to Nordic and European perspectives from the position of funders, policy makers, ministries etc. Discussion about the regions threw up some interesting issues including, for example, the problem that European structural funds tend to favour male-dominated professions (forestry, industry) but cannot be used for the female-dominated ones such as carework etc. In consequence there are significant labour shortages in those areas in some Finnish regions. What is more a study on a small town into which a significant car manufacturer was introduced showed that whilst this created 4000+ jobs, not least for young men, there was no equivalent for women, with a dramatic result on the demographics of this place where young men were very dissatisfied with their life situation because, if heterosexual, they could not find partners. Food for thought! Economically driven innovation needs to be matched by considerations of their social and cultural impacts – young women (also) go where they can find work and life opportunities, and one without the other is clearly not enough.

Gabriele Griffin

With gender balance as a goal for innovation environments

During some busy weeks this autumn we are inviting research and innovation environments, including research projects, higher education, R&I funders, private and public IT sector, schools and science museums and more, across the western part of Norway to dialogue meetings about competence and recruitment.

Recruiting the “right” competence to technology driven research and innovation can be challenging, in particular in the rural region. Simultaneously we see that very few women apply for IT education in this region – this year only 3% against the national average of 26% women. Our research also indicates that there are few women working in the private IT sector in this region. An important question for the IT sector in general, and in this region in particular, is therefore: how can we recruit the best from all, not only half the population?

Gender balance competence inspiration brochure

Based on our Nordwit research and in collaboration with FixIT, we have developed recommendations to the research and innovation environments for how they can build a strategy for better gender balance, how to remove discrimination and secure diversity in recruitment processes, and to identify how the organization can develop internal routines to secure an inclusive environment.

Interested in hearing more?
The next dialogue meeting about competence and recruitment is October 2nd 2019 in Bergen: https://www.facebook.com/events/644936879363987/
You can also contact us if you want to book a meeting with us.

Contact person
Hilde G. Corneliussen: https://www.vestforsk.no/nn/person/hilde-g-corneliussen

Read more
FixIT: https://www.vestforsk.no/en/project/fixit-activities-increase-proportion-women-forregionss-innovation-projects