Blows to our narcissism? Our PhD course on ‘Technologies are Us: Feminist Perspectives on Posthuman Futures’

Friday 18 Sept 2020 the news were full of a 20-year old Tesla car driver in Canada lying on his front seat asleep whilst his car drove along on autopilot at 150 km/h. What does this suggest? A naïve faith in (almost) autonomous cars, a ludic approach to life (and death?), plain stupidity, over-reacher syndrome, or…? Technologies are us – in so many ways…

Photo: Colourbox / Nina Bergheim Dahl

Week 39 of 2020 is the time of Nordwit’s second PhD course, entitled ‘Technologies are Us: Feminist Perspectives on Posthuman Futures’. In developing the course we were interested in how instantly questions of gender and technology led to questions of ethics. As Catherine Malabou in Morphing Intelligence (2019) suggests, ‘for the first time in a very long time, our society [is] expressing a deep and urgent need for philosophy.’ Malabou regards contemporary affective responses to artificial intelligence such as fear as misplaced – machines, even so-called self-learning ones, will not become our masters since they themselves are constructed by humans. What troubles her, and should trouble us, is their governance. This, for all the counterclaims made by GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) company owners and directors, i.e. the question of governance, which relates to democracy, community, trust, is the key concern from Malabou’s perspective. Systematic consultation with cybercitizens to build an AI future which supports community is what Malabou advocates, and it is how we should meet the inevitability that technologies are us in the world of AI.

Gabriele Griffin

Workshop on gender equality in regional research and innovation

pexels-digital-buggu-171198
Photo by Digital Buggu from Pexels

Nordwit, in collaboration with the Tampere regional council, the Tampere Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the Tampere University Gender Equality group, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and the EU project Marie, arranged a zoom workshop focusing on the regional stakeholders’ opportunities to turn gender equality into a resource in research and innovation (R&I) on 27 August 2020.

The regional council which delivers EU structural and regional development funding, together with the ministries that guide its work, wanted to develop their own practices to promote gender equality at the level of concrete project planning and applications. Nordwit shared its research findings in the workshop and its planning.

Continue reading “Workshop on gender equality in regional research and innovation”

The Failure of the National Gender Equality Regime?

In my last post I shared some of the findings in our new article: “Employers’ Mixed Signals to Women in IT: Uncovering how Gender Equality Ideals are Challenged by Organizational Context”, where we have identified various ways in which IT organizations renegotiate the call for gender equality in IT. Based on the findings we have suggested a model that visualises how the “national gender equality regime” fails to implement gender equality as an active goal in the organizations.

We explain the model this way:

“[T]he national gender equality regime creates expectations to employers’ active work to improve the gender imbalance in IT, reflected in rules and regulations. However, gender balance in IT is not a specific requirement and there are few and vague guidelines for the organizations for engaging in gender equality work in general. The organizations’ representatives see the request for gender equality in the context of their organization, introducing internal and external factors that contribute to modifying the understanding of women’s underrepresentation and whether or not it is worth changing. This process introduces doubt and alternative ways of perceiving the situation, resulting in limited space for organizations to find motivation to engage in gender equality actions.”
(Corneliussen & Seddighi 2020, p. 46)

The most problematic finding is that the “draining” of gender equality as a goal is happening within the framework of the national gender equality regime rather than challenging the regime itself.

How can we approach the challenge of gender equality not being perceived as a relevant goal within fields of IT?

Read the full paper:
Corneliussen, H. G., & Seddighi, G. (2020). Employers’ Mixed Signals to Women in IT: Uncovering how Gender Equality Ideals are Challenged by Organizational Context. In P. Kommers & G. C. Peng (Eds.), Proceedings for the International Conference ICT, Society, and Human Beings 2020 (41-48): ADIS Press.

New Publication: What brings women into ehealth?: Women’s career trajectories in digital transformations in health care

Digital transformation of health care services is addressed world-wide in order to more efficiently meet the patients’ information and health care needs. However, little is known about the people working with this transformation, where two traditionally gendered fields meet; health care and IT. While work with digitalization generally is dominated by men, digitalization of health care services involves a large number of women. In a recent case study published at the 12th International Conference on eHealth we explore the career trajectories of women working with the digital transformation of eHealth services. The paper is written in a collaboration between Åsa Cajander, Hilde Corneliussen, Gunilla Myreteg and Kari Dyb.

The question we ask is: Who are the women in this eHealth project, and how did they come to working with this digital transformation?

The analysis shows that different types of trajectories brought the women into eHealth transformations: The first illustrating women who were pushed into working with eHealth by their job descriptions, the second showing women using eHealth as an escape route from something else, and the last trajectory showing how women stumbled across eHealth and decided to stay on. This has implications for the educational system, and points to the need for being able to study computer science later in life. It also calls for a better understanding of what drives women in transformation processes.

You find the publication available here:
https://www.vestforsk.no/nn/publication/what-brings-women-ehealth-womens-career-trajectories-digital-transformations-healthcare

Åsa Cajander