Flexibility in working-time and -space

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According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2018) there is a small gender gap in the average working hours of ICT specialists compared to other occupations. This is because women in ICT jobs work more hours in average (36.9 hours a week) than women in other occupations, such as health sector (34.5 hours) (ibid.). A research conducted in Sweden’s IT-service shows that both men and women face tensions between work and family responsibilities (Holth, Bergman, & MacKenzie, 2017). Men could work longer hours because their partners could take over the family responsibilities. Women’s choice of prioritizing roles related to family responsibilities over the roles requiring high degrees of spatial and temporal work were less valued. Work–life balance policies help employers to retain and recruit women who feel they are or might be “punished” because of combining career with family responsibilities (EIGE, 2017). The policies that might prevent the spillover between work and private life include, for instance, rights related to parental-leave and care-related leave, flexible working-time and -space. In the Nordwit project Pillar 1, we see closer to how women who work in ICT reflect over the balance between family and career and how ICT organisations talk about and regulate among others flexible working-time and -space.

Gilda Seddighi

 

References: 

EIGE. (2017). Gender Equality Index 2017 – Measuring gender equality in the European Union 2005-2015. Retrieved from: https://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/gender-equality-index-2017-measuring-gender-equality-european-union-2005-2015-report

EIGE. (2018). Women and men in ICT: a chance for better work–life balance Retrieved from: https://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/women-and-men-ict-chance-better-work-life-balance-research-note

Holth, L., Bergman, A., & MacKenzie, R. (2017). Gender, availability and dual emancipation in the Swedish ICT sector. Work, Employment and Society, 31( 2), 230-247. doi:org/10.1177/0950017016651378

 

Research elite and academic artisans

Photo: Neil Thomas
Academic careers have become increasingly competitive and stratified. There are research high-flyers and star scientists, and there are “ordinary” academics without such a dazzling career success.  Two recent articles in Higher Education offer glimpses of different kinds of career building in the current managerial university.

Marek Kwiek, based on his study on highly productive academics in 11 European countries, concludes that the European research elite is a very homogeneous group. The results corroborate the 10/50 rule, meaning that 10 percent of academics produce 50 percent of all publications. These top performers form a universal academic species: They are much more cosmopolitan, much more research-oriented and work much longer hours than their lower-performing colleagues.

But who are these lower-performing colleagues? Are they lazy deficient failures, lacking both the skills and the drive to succeed in research? Absolutely not, according to Angela Brew, David Boud, Lisa Lucas and Karin Crawford in their recent article (2018). They are academic artisans engaged in academic artisanal work.

Academic artisans are committed to the institution, to their colleagues and to the students. They take care of the collective good and keep the university going. Yet, they are not sacrificing themselves so that others are able to fly high. Instead, they are creatively crafting their work and career so that they are able to satisfy their own goals and needs while at the same time meeting institutional requirements. What is vital to them is to have a sense of purpose and personal meaning in their work. This may  have career consequences as academic artisanal work tends to be invisible, forgotten and not recognized by the prevailing productivity metrics.

Though these articles do not reflect much on gender, it seems obvious that gender matters. I am thrilled to scrutinize what kinds of signs of research elite and academic artisans our interviews with female academics may entail.

Oili-Helena Ylijoki


References:

Brew, Angela; Boud, David; Lucas Lisa and Crawford, Karin (2018) Academic artisans in the research university. Higher Education 76(1), 115-127.

Kwiek, Marek (2016) The European research elite. Higher Education 71(3), 379-397.

Interview with Emma Tysk

2018 was a busy year for Uppsala student Emma Tysk. She was awarded ‘IT woman of the year’ and ‘Uppsala student of the year’, while also finishing her BA project on teaching programming for kids and started to work as a web consultant. It is with great commitment she engages in the issue of gender equality in the IT industry, and through talks at schools and via social media, she wants to challenge the negative stereotypes associated with programming and IT.

We interviewed her about her work and the importance of female role models in IT (something Nordwit researcher Hilde Corneliussen has blogged about before).

Emma Tysk

Name: Emma Tysk
Age: 24
Lives: Uppsala
Does: Work as a consultant at TV4, study civil engineering in information technology at Uppsala University. In the free time I like to paint, watch too many YouTube videos, and hang out with friends.
Inspiring IT women: Ada Lovelace, @codergirl_, Sofie Lindblom, and my best friend Moa Skan (who is doing her MA thesis in space physics, a cooler person is hard to find)

Every year Microsoft, in collaboration with Universum, selects one student to represent women in IT. In 2018, Emma was designated the award with the following motivation:

With great passion, genuine commitment and energy, she is already an enthusiastic missionary for IT and technology issues among young girls. She wants to attract more women to the tech industry and accommodate talented people who find it. It is with great pleasure that Microsoft for the 16th year can designate the year’s IT-girl and look forward to making a great deal together with this year’s winner Emma Tysk.

And in November, Emma Tysk received a second award, the ‘Uppsala student of the year’, founded by the Anders Wall Foundation. The scholarship is awarded to a student who has distinguished themselves through their good, creative efforts at Uppsala University, and has developed entrepreneurship in connection with the University’s activities.

Congratulations to both awards! What has this meant for you?
Thank you! I can tell you that it was a nervous girl giving a speech in front of 2000 people in the Grand Auditorium. I can honestly not believe that it actually happened, and that I made it. But what a feeling stepping of the stage!
Both of the awards has meant a lot for my confidence and my energy. To be able to meet inspiring leaders in the IT sector and successful entrepreneurs – wow! I believe I now have a new perspective and understanding of why the things I do is important, and that has made me think bigger.

What sort of programming do you do?
Right now I am working as a front-end developer. Front-end means I am working with the visual application, I implement the design and make sure it looks good on different devices and screens. It’s super fun!

Tell us more about your bachelor project
For my bachelor project, I developed together with two other students an application in collaboration with the non-profit organisation HelloWorld!. The purpose with the application was to teach programming to kids through animated pictures and coding. We wanted to do a visual application that would be inspiring!

Why do you think there are fewer women than men working in the IT sector?
There are of course several reasons for that. One reason so few girls turn to technology at a young age is probably because we come in contact with technology later than boys. It is more socially acceptable for boys to play TV and video games and they often hang out in groups where this interest is encouraged. Another reason, I think, is that many people associate programming with negative stereotypes, and many girls feel like they don’t have people to identify with in the business.

In your opinion, what is needed to attract more women and girls to IT?
A big problem is the lack of knowledge of what it actually means to work in IT. When I grew up programming was not something you got in contact with in school, it wasn’t a career option mentioned as with ‘researcher’, ‘teacher’ or ‘doctor’. I associated it with Excel sheets and tiring, dark rooms. To attract more girls I think we need to spread the word about all the exciting projects one can work with and how programmers are! I myself could never had dreamed of my first job being application and web designer at TV4. It is so exciting and fun, and through my work I can reach out to so many people , you are really part of the development of society.

Why are female role models important in IT and technology?
In order to inspire more women to turn to technology it is so very important that women are given a platform to share experiences. I myself missed a female role model in IT when I was about to choose what to study. If I would have had someone to look up to in the business, I would without doubt been interested in programming much earlier on. Just to be able to see an example of what you could work with makes a huge difference. Way too many people, young and old, have no idea how a workday for a programmer actually can look like.

Do you try to inspire and get girls and women interested in IT and programming somehow?
Through my Instagram account emma.codes I share my everyday life as a programmer to show that it is super fun! It’s a creative and exciting job where you get to travel, meet inspiring people and work in many different areas. I have also visited my old high school where I did a presentation about my work and my studies at Uppsala University. I hope to be able to visit more schools in the future!

I want to post an example of a person who might not fit in to the stereotypical image one might have of a programmer, but who loves and likes what she does.

Do you have a role model now?
My friend Moa Skan is my biggest female role model. She studies space physics and is actively working with attracting a diversity of people to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This summer she will be a project leader for Rymdforskarskolan, with the aim to promote interest in astronomy and aerospace among the Swedish youth. She will also participate in Almedalsveckan and talk about the importance of investing in the Swedish space industry. To me, Moa is a genuinely fantastic role model. She gives me energy to dare more and keep up my commitment and interest.

Tell us about your plan to create a network for female students who will go out and talk about IT at schools!
When I started to study IT I realized that I could have been interested in programming much earlier on in life if someone just had told me what it actually means work in this sector. I thought I might be able to make a difference for girls in the same situation as me by telling them about my everyday life as a programmer. After having presented at my high school I started to dream about sharing that experience with other women in the same business as me – to give them a platform to share their experiences and at the same time inspire others!

What are your hopes and plans for the future?
I have always dreamed of doing a career abroad for some years. I hope that I one day live in New York and work as a full stack developer. I also hope that I can keep up my interest and inspire more women to turn to IT – maybe create a international network?

You are moving to Melbourne in February. What will you there?
I will go for an exchange for a year, and I am so excited! I will take courses in human machine interaction, and will probably travel around some in Australia. But I sincerely hope I can avoid spiders, they are my biggest fear!

Last, but not least, do you have any tips for those who wish to start coding?
To learn the basics in web developing I think is a good first step. Google ‘beginner tutorials’ in HTML and CSS. You can learn to build your own website in just a few days (super cool). If you are interested in design I would recommend to start with Java, which is a very good language for beginners. But don’t forget – it takes some time before the penny drops! To learn programming is kind of learning a new language. It’s tricky in the beginning but when you know the basics it will go fast!

We thank Emma and wish her good luck down under!

Elina Nilsson

 

Hiding unequal treatment in organizations

In December, Gilda Seddighi started her Nordwit blog post with the following words:

“´We do not treat men and women differently in our organization’ is a strong discourse many proudly share with us, as we talk and discuss strategies for gender equality in the field work.”

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Indeed, this is an often told claim that hide the inequalities in organizations, as Gilda stated. But what is then hidden? How gender and gender based inequalities are inevitably inscribed in and through organizations, businesses and working life institutions, despite of public equality statements? Some answers are provided by Jatta Jännäri in her PhD thesis Mediated Construction of an Ideal Gendered Manager and Employee (2018) published at the University of Turku. In the second article of the thesis, Jännäri together with Seppo Poutanen and Anne Kovalainen analyse how women in leading positions have been represented in The Economist between 2006-2013. Here they distinguish four ways in which women-leaders were described and presented:  in relation to 1) their appearance, family ties and kinships; 2) the pioneering femininity as a competence; 3) representing care continuity in companies; and 4) the problems of their competences. Female leaders were understood as individual and flexible people, and simultaneously as stereotypically feminine. Old stereotypes apparently have impact on women’s chances to succeed in recruitment processes and on different and unequal treatment in organizations.

Päivi Korvajärvi

It’s great to be thought of as attractive! Attractive Innovation Project Award 2018

Last evening (10 Dec 2018), entrepreneur Sophia Renemar from HeraHub, my colleague Anneli Häyrén and I were delighted to receive an award from Uppsala University Innovation for our ‘Attractive Innovation Project’ (meaning we attracted funding and it was considered to have great development potential) on Women as Entrepreneurs: The Meaning of Co-working Hubs for Normcritique and Sustainable Businesses. This Vinnova-funded pilot project is concerned with female entrepreneurs’ use and understanding of co-working hubs in the context of questions about changing labour markets and threats to what one might consider ‘decent work’ (UN 2030 Goal). The project relates directly to Nordwit’s concerns since it involves female entrepreneurs using technology as both a tool and content for running their own small businesses, but importantly also involves normcritical stances towards this. The award ceremony was a jolly occasion: wine, burgers, and lots of very different kinds of innovations which were presented, including many from medicine and life sciences, mostly involving the construction and use of technologies. The event involved funders and angels (= investors) as well as researchers from within and outside of academe. It’s really nice to finish the year on a spot of recognition!

Gabriele Griffin

Equal opportunities and different interests

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“We do not treat men and women differently in our organization” is a strong discourse many proudly share with us, as we talk and discuss strategies for gender equality in the field work. There is a belief that gender equality is ensured when men and women are offered equal opportunities. But how can we ensure equal treatment and allocation of resources considering the differences in needs and interests? If we want to be fair with equal opportunities while addressing differences women experience in the workforce, one should open up also for different treatments such as in recruitment process. We have also repeatedly heard that “we should remember women have different interests”. The utterance is said to remind us that there is an invisible barrier in approaching gender equality because of men and women’s different interests in education and career choices. As if “interests” are entirely natural and are not socially constructed. As long “natural“ interests and needs are considered to be a barrier to overcome gender segregation in labor force, the responsibilities to ensure equal opportunities are disclaimed.

Gilda Seddighi 

Experiencing a Career in a Technology Driven Research Area

NordWit is about women’s careers in technology-driven research and innovation in and outside of academia. The objective of NordWit is to enhance and investigate women’s career opportunities and trajectories, with the overarching goal to improve the gender. The NordWit team is multidisciplinary with lots of experienced and excellent researchers to learn from!

The team had a 2,5-day meeting in Uppsala a couple of weeks ago. Among other things we went through some of the interviews that we had done, and I couldn’t help but thinking how much of what was said that I have seen and experience first-hand. Now I don’t mean in my research studies, but in my life as a woman working in the area of Computer Science.

One of the experiences that I have had that correlated to many of the interviews is a feeling of not belonging to the technology area. In my case the area is computer science, and in the interviews the area is related to digital humanities or eHealth. I am convinced that in my case this feeling is based on several factors.

  • The first is that my area human-computer interaction is by many seen as a bit odd, and fluffy and not really belonging in computer science. The main thing, in my opinion, is that people think that computer science is only about technology and not about people. The image in the blog post, for example, is what you find when searching for computer science I have seen this a lot, and recently when doing an evaluation of an application of promotion I was indeed asked to motivate why my research area would be a part of the area. I did a well written motivation based on IEEE and ACM definitions -but it took me some extra hours of unnecessary work. So, my subject is not really at the core of computer science, and hence I am not really a computer scientist.
  • The other thing is of course that people do not really see women generally as computer scientists for many reasons. And perhaps not a woman like me. The core of the area includes an image of a man, being quite introvert doing technology for technology’s sake and spending lots of time at his computer. The image does not quite incorporate an outgoing woman loving people, collaboration and discussions. This also contributed to the feeling that I am not a computer scientist.
  • Finally, the career that I have had so far has not been very straight, quite the contrary. Most of my colleagues in computer science do not have this background, I would claim. It has been a nice ride with a wonderful experience, and for sure a great learning experience, but more winding than what one would think. Recently I wrote a text about my career that was published in ACM Crossroads where you can read more about my background.

This could be a very long blog post related to this topic of not belonging. In 2015 I got the chance to reflect on this, and I did a key note on being a woman in computer science. The key note was at the WomENcourage conference and was called “On Grit and Being a Token Figure” and perhaps that would be interesting for you and you find it on YouTube here.

Åsa Cajander