Holiday – who can afford it?

In the Nordic countries, July is the most popular summer holiday month. I am writing this text two days before my own holiday starts, and I feel really tired. At this point, it is hard to imagine how I could make it without a proper four weeks’ vacation. Still, not all of us working in the academia can afford to take a few weeks off.

The latest employment statistics of the University of Tampere from 2016 show how 54 percent of all employments at the university were fixed-term. For doctoral students the rate is the highest, 98 percent; for postdocs 92 percent; and for senior researchers and lectures 66 percent. Almost 60 percent of the professors had a permanent contract. Many fixed-term employees, like me, can enjoy the holidays, but if the contracts are continuously short, or if you’re working on a scholarship you might not be – or feel – entitled to a vacation. Many academics complain how exhausted they never fully recover from work due to short-term contracts.

What does this got to do with gender? Though the statistics of our university do not show the gender division of the fixed-term employment, the Statistics Finland tells us that in 2017 of all employments in Finland, 19 percent of women’s and 13 percent of men’s were fixed-term, and that this relation has stayed more or less the same over a decade. The scholar of work life history, Anu Suoranta (2009) argues that fixed-term jobs have been a mundane way of living for many women in Finland ever since the period between World War I and II. She also suggests that instead of spending time and energy for planning how to get rid of it, we should negotiate better collective agreements for fixed-term employment.

But also academics with permanent or long-term employment may decide to skip the holiday. In our meritocratic universities, academics are encouraged to gather data, write articles and funding applications during the summer. To stay in the career competition, many of us do.

So, if you’re working when you read this text in July and are not planning to have a holiday this summer, close your laptop, put your feet up, smell the summer and relax!

Tiina Suopajärvi

– Statistics Finland, Tilastokeskus, Findikaattori, Osa-aikaset ja määräaikaiset työsuhteet, read 27th June 2018 [].
– Suoranta, Anu (2009) Halvennettu työ. Pätkätyö ja sukupuoli sopimusyhteiskuntaa edeltävissä työmarkkinakäytännöissä. Tampere: Vastapaino.
– Tampereen yliopisto, Henkilöstökertomus 2016, read 27th June 2018 [].

Gender equality matters in Finland

The brand new equality barometer published by the Statistics Finland tells what people think about gender equality. Since 1998, the Statistics Finland has conducted six gender equality barometers. The latest barometer was conducted as phone interviews during the fall 2017. The representative sample consisted of 3,000 people between the ages of 15-74, living in Finland. 56 percent of them participated in the interviews.

Here, I just pick one topic that I find attention-grabbing to note. For the first time the interviewees were asked about the equality plans in the workplaces. According to the Equality Act, an equality plan must be worked out every other year in the workplaces, in which over 30 employees are working regularly.

According to the barometer results, as many as 40 percent of the respondents working in workplaces with over 30 employees did not know whether an equality plan existed or not in the workplace. Further, only slightly over 25 percent said that they had an equality plan at their workplace. Moreover, what is also worth to stress is that about one third said that an equality plan did not exist in their workplace, which still had over 30 employees.

There were no big gender differences among the respondents. However, with higher education or age, it was more likely that the interviewees reported of an existing equality plan. Further, I find it striking that in the state sector, only 28 percent of female employees, but almost half (47 percent) of male employees, reported that they had an equality plan at the workplace.

I think that the results tell that the equality plans are surprisingly poorly known among the employees in Finland, although the equality plans are extremely useful in proceeding gender equality in everyday working life.

Päivi Korvajärvi