On Friday 8 March, Åsa Cajander from Nordwit was interviewed by SVT News about the university’s work with gender equality. The Swedish article is found here, and below is a translation to English:
Ways to Increase the Number of Female Professors
About one-third of the professors at universities and colleges in Sweden are women. In the higher education institutes, the percentage is often at an even lower figure. But there are several initiatives to smooth out the differences.
At the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University, the number of female doctoral students is lowest in the entire university. But at the same time, the differences between the levels are also the least – they do not lose as many women after basic education as other institutions do.
Åsa Cajander, professor of human-computer interaction, leads the gender equality work at the department. She believes that an important prerequisite for increased gender equality is that there is cooperation between the university and experts in gender science in order to spread knowledge about the problems.
For example, research has shown that, during recruitment processes, one can unknowingly formulate an application so that it specifically targets a woman or man. Training employees on gender issues can be a way to avoid this.
– Ten years ago we only had one female professor and all three leading positions at the department were held by men. Now there are five female professors, and the three leading positions are held by women, says Åsa Cajander.
But Åsa Cajander thinks that the figures are still very low, and sees an opportunity for improvement when recruiting professorships.
Already during basic education, the percentage of women is lower than the average, which means that the number of women educated at doctoral level at the department is also very few.
– One solution can be to recruit from nearby fields and alternative career paths where more women work, says Åsa Cajander.
At Lund University, efforts are made to ensure that the recruitment process is as fair as possible. If a service only applies for one sex, the faculty should turn to the headmaster for an investigative discussion, where they present the application process and possibly re-do it.
– The fact that someone actually points out the problem and that the principal is spending time on it has been particularly important. We have been able to see the proportion of female professors increasing steadily over the years, says Lina Lindell, personnel consultant at labor law and employment at Lund University.
– In terms of numbers, it is difficult to create change, but it has become better. It goes slow but forward, says Åsa Cajander.