In her Nordwit blog post last June, Gilda Seddighi wrote about the importance of role models for women to become more interested in the fields of ICT and technology. She pointed out that this is not an easy task since women might feel their gender and the fields of ICT and technology as conflicting. Technology is still often connected to masculinity and men in the Nordic countries. For example, in 2017 approximately 77 % of both master’s and doctoral degree graduates in ICT in Finland were men. When we look at the statistics of teaching and research staff of ICT in Finnish universities, the amount of women is around 20 % until we come to the professors and the number drops down to 7 %. (Official Statistics of Finland; Vipunen – Education Statistics Finland.)
Having role models is important in the dismantling of gender segregation in working life. I have come across this while making the career interviews with women who work in bio- and health technology. If all professors and most principal investigators of research groups are men, for some women this is an indicator that they should not consider a career in academia. In addition to role models, it is important to study the various everyday practices that construct the culture of work communities and thus affect women’s willingness to stay in a work place. These practices include, for example, the ways people communicate with each other, both in informal and formal situations; the tasks and responsibilities people are trusted with; the access of resources; and the possibilities to influence one’s own work.
Through our career interviews, we scrutinize whether women have experienced some of the everyday practices of their work places as gendered, and whether these practices affect their career trajectories. The public discussion on gender segregation in ICT and technology often focuses on the reasons why women are not interested in technology. We argue that it is equally important to ask why those women who choose to study and even to earn a doctoral degree in ICT and other fields of technology might feel pushed away or drawn by work possibilities outside of academia.
Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): University education [e-publication].
ISSN=2324-0148. 2017, Appendix table 1. Students in universities and completed university degrees by level of education, fields of education (National classification of education 2016) and gender in 2017. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 20.2.2019]. Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/yop/2017/yop_2017_2018-05-08_tau_001_en.html
Vipunen – Education Statistics Finland: Yliopistojen opetus- ja tutkimushenkilökunta [referred: 20.2.2019]. OKM:n vuosittainen tiedonkeruu. Access method: https://vipunen.fi/fi-fi/_layouts/15/xlviewer.aspx?id=/fi-fi/Raportit/Yliopistojen%20opetus-%20ja%20tutkimushenkil%C3%B6kunta%20-%20tieteenala.xlsb