This is the time of year when all academics in Sweden, and possibly elsewhere, are either busily writing funding applications or – and for many it is and – doing annual or final reports for their funded activities. In the digital world, much of this work for which we once had specialists falls on academics not trained in such accounting activities. Somehow the notion that we all have computers translates in many institutions into the idea that therefore we can also all – quasi-osmotically? – undertake all the processes for which we once had trained staff. Research time thus turns into research administration time, and since this is not what academics were trained for, we spend more time than is appropriate on tasks that we do not do routinely but intermittently.
This is made worse when accounting to funders requires the translation of the same information into multiple forms that are incompatible, use different categories each, and are not interoperable. One way in which this happens is when funders have a local system but also then decide to buy an ‘off-the-peg’ system from elsewhere (usually the US) where other discourses, categories, and assumptions prevail, and where the system may have been set up for certain disciplines (medicine or certain science/s spring to mind) that answer to other accounting imperatives. For the researcher this creates added administrative burdens in an age when ‘lean’ is the norm, and academics have virtually (or actually) no support for the burgeoning of administrative tasks they are meant to fulfill. Systems with a variety of automated functions including e.g. the selection of journal titles or funders (where one has to enter information manually which one ends up doing almost entirely – after all, how many of us have e.g. the DOI handy at all times?), but where the journal titles and publishers are really all the US ones, and to find non-US ones takes ages, are not helpful. So what is one to do?
In posh hotels now they have IT butlers, ready to help you with your IT needs in smart rooms with systems that your average punter cannot operate. Maybe it’s time universities appointed IT butlers, too, ready to do the digital labour that is research administration which takes researchers many unproductive hours. This measure would help researchers through the current stage of lack of interoperability and user-friendliness that bedevils the add-on strategies of organizations grappling with their digitalization processes.
The theme for this year is Work beyond Crises and will address contemporary transformations and reconfigurations of work, such as digitalization and changing work relations stirred by the current pandemic.
One of the streams is Gendering Work and will be chaired by Nordwit researcher Päivi Korvajärvi, Tampere University, and Minna Nikunen, University of Jyväskylä.
Gender and work are entangled in several complex ways. Work is embodied and person-related, and its percussions to gendering society reach beyond the work itself. It is therefore crucial to analyze how gender relates to work and how it is located in structures, meanings, interactions and subjects constituted and reconstituted in work. The questions of embodied work and ways through which the gendering of work takes place are among the topics of interest in this stream. The contemporary questions in relation to gendered effects of pandemics to working life, and inequalities in relation to gendered working life are welcomed. Also papers and studies addressing the gendering taking place at different levels and in different processes of working life are especially welcomed. Papers exploring more generally the theme of the conference from gender perspective are welcomed.
According to the preliminary schedule the stream will have its sessions on 13-14 Oct and 8-9 Dec. The deadline for abstract submission is 15 March.
My doctoral research is about how gender affects research and knowledge-based entrepreneurship in Finland and Turkey. I aim to analyze the inequalities that women entrepreneurs face because of gender ideologies and their strategies to overcome inequalities in the research and innovation sector. My general aim is to bring out the women entrepreneurs’ experiences related to structural and interactional constraints and analyze their experiences in terms of similarities and differences. Throughout the conferences and doctoral courses I’ve attended, the main question asked about my research is “why I compare Finland and Turkey since they have very different cultural routes in terms of gender equality debates.” As Ahl (2006) argues, a comparison between countries with different socio-cultural backgrounds gives more global perspectives to understand better common features and crucial differences of women entrepreneurs among countries. For example, Finland is often regarded as already achieved gender equality, but according to the European Commission Statistics on research and innovation, only 17.3% of private-sector researchers are women. Despite being influenced by the intensive religio-conservative gender climate for the last few decades (Günes-Ayata and Doğangün 2017), the proportion of women researchers in the private sector is 24.4% in Turkey. As the statistics show, regardless of country, women researchers are significantly under-represented in the research and innovation sectors, leading to a gender gap in technology-based firm creation.
For this study, I interviewed 29 women entrepreneurs (16 from Turkey and 13 from Finland). There are surprising similarities between Finnish and Turkish participants’ experiences in the highly gendered sector. In my next blog post, I would like to discuss my findings.
Demet Demirez, PhD Student at Tampere University, associated with Nordwit
References: Ahl, H. (2006). Why Research on Women Entrepreneurs Needs New Directions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 30(5), 595-621.
Güneş-Ayata, A.,Doğangün, G. (2017). Gender Politics of the AKP: Restoration of a Religio-Conservative Gender Climate. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 19(6), 610-627.