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Gender and Excellence in Science and Technology Research. Dr. Liisa Husu University of Helsinki CEM-CONICYT CONFERENCE EXCELLENCE IN SCIENCE AND GENDER EQUALITY: IN SEARCH OF GOOD PRACTICES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH Santiago, November 6, 2007 . Science and Technology Organisations .

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gender and excellence in science and technology research

Gender and Excellence in Science and Technology Research

Dr. Liisa Husu

University of Helsinki

CEM-CONICYT CONFERENCE EXCELLENCE IN SCIENCE AND GENDER EQUALITY:

IN SEARCH OF GOOD PRACTICES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH

Santiago, November 6, 2007

science and technology organisations
Science and Technology Organisations
  • as sites of knowledge production
  • as social arenas
  • as gendered organisations

* Husu 2007

history of women in science
History of women in science
  • exclusion of women from universities and science academies because of their sex
  • resistance against women’s entry
  • resistance against pioneering women

* Husu 2007

european setting slow progress
European setting: slow progress
  • Only 15% of full professors are women
  • Majority of university graduates have been women since the 1990s
  • Women earn 4 out of 10 doctorates
  • 95 % or more of technology professors are men
  • Figures for 2004 (EC:She Figures 2006)

* Husu 2007

slide7
Across the EU, only 29 % of researchers women in 2004

In Business and Enterprise sector, only 18 % of researchers women, even if it is the largest research sector in many countries

* Husu 2007

european setting
…European setting
  • Considerable diversity across

Europe when it comes to scientific infrastructure, history of women’s engagement in HE and scientific professions, gender equality agendas, work-life balance provisions

* Husu 2007

common factors
Common factors
  • a lack of gender balance in decision making about science policy and among those who determine what constitutes “good science”.

Teresa Rees: National Policies on Women and Science in Europe 2002

* Husu 2007

slide11
Why so slow progress towards

gender balance and gender

equality in academia and research?

  • Why so few women at the top in academia?

* Husu 2007

slide12
Traditional way to approach inequalities in science and academia:
  • “Women are the problem” that needs to be fixed or
  • “Women have problems” in research careers

* Husu 2007

slide13
Change in conceptualising the debate on women in science in the 1990s:
  • Focus on academic and scientific organisations: how they treat women and men & produce and reproduce gendered hierarchies

* Husu 2007

only women have gender
Only women have gender?
  • Men in science also problematized
  • Academic masculinities
  • Men and academic networking
  • Homosociability
  • Master – apprentice relationships

* Husu 2007

why promote women and gender equality in science
Why promote women and gender equality in science?
  • Human rights argument:
    • everybody should be able to realize their potential regardless of their gender
  • Excellence and quality argument:
    • best brains and talents should be recruited to research, regardless of gender

* Husu 2007

why promote
...why promote
  • Scientific labour force argument:
    • recruitment base for research is diminishing with smaller cohorts  need to recruit both women and men
  • National economical argument:
    • it is economically wasteful for society not to utilize fully the talents of highly educated women (majority of graduates!)

* Husu 2007

slide17
Epistemological argument:
    • researchers with more diverse (gender, ethnic, class etc.) backgrounds representing broader groups in society

- formulate more diverse and different research questions

      • produce more multidimensional research
      • Quality through diversity

* Husu 2007

excellence
Excellence
  • the new science policy buzzword
  • national and European centres of excellence
  • networks of excellence
  • excellence as funding criteria

* Husu 2007

defining excellence
Defining excellence
  • Do we recognize it, when we see it?
  • Contested terrain
  • Excellence as a social construction
  • Who defines?
  • What criteria are used?

* Husu 2007

gender and excellence
Gender and excellence
  • EU Workshop “Minimising gender bias in the definition and measurement of scientific excellence”, Florence, October 2003
  • Report Gender and Excellence in the Making (2004)

* Husu 2007

us nas report 2006
US NAS Report (2006)
  • Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering

by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

* Husu 2007

nas 2006
NAS (2006)
  • ”Most people, men and women, hold implicit gender bias”.
  • ”Evaluation criteria contain arbitrary and subjective components which disadvantage women”.

* Husu 2007

gender bias possible in
Gender bias possible in
  • Characterization of scientific excellence
  • Assessment criteria
  • Indicators (explicit or implicit) used
  • Applying the criteria to men and women
  • Recruitment and composition of gate-keepers

* Husu 2007

gate keeping
Gate-keeping
  • Robert K. Merton (in The Sociology of Science, 1973):
  • Gate-keeper the “fourth major role” or function of scientists, in addition to those of researcher, teacher and administrator.

* Husu 2007

slide25
Basic to the systems of evaluation and the allocation of roles and resources in science
  • Affects contemporary science in its every aspect

* Husu 2007

slide26
“Gate-keepers evaluate the promise and limitations of aspirants to new positions,

thus affecting the mobility of individual scientists and, in the aggregate, the distribution of personnel throughout the system.” (Merton 1973)

* Husu 2007

gate keeping arenas in academia
GATE-KEEPING ARENAS IN ACADEMIA
  • agenda setting
  • policy decisions
  • creation of academic posts
  • academic appointments
  • promotion/recruitment decisions
  • funding decisions
  • allocation of resources
  • decisions on awards and prizes
  • publishing
  • evaluations of performance
  • Etc.

* Husu 2007

gatekeeping takes place in
GATEKEEPING TAKES PLACE IN
  • Research groups
  • Departments
  • Institutions
  • Faculties
  • University
  • Research councils
  • Scientific associations
  • Funding organisations
  • Ministry of Education
  • Formal and informal networks

* Husu 2007

gate keeping and gate keepers
Gate-keeping and gate-keepers
  • gate-keepers: both organizational and individual
  • gate-keeping policies
  • gate-keeping practices
  • both content of decisions and processes of decision-making

* Husu 2007

the dual role of gate keeping
The dual role of gate-keeping
  • enabling, promoting people, ideas, policies, providing opportunities
  • controlling, excluding or blocking people, ideas, policies

* Husu 2007

gate keeping in eu funding
Gate-keeping in EU funding
  • 40 % target for women’s representation in committees, panels and advisory groups
  • Evaluation panels:

FP5: 22 – 27 % of women (2001), FP6: 26 % (2003)

* Husu 2007

slide32
European Commission ETAN report on promoting gender equality in science (2000):

Gate-keepers of research funding in Europe consist to a large extent of middle-age male academics

* Husu 2007

slide33
Gatekeepers of research funding in Finland (ongoing study by Husu)
  • ”Do you think it is important to have both women and men among decision-makers on research funding?”

* Husu 2007

strong acceptance support
Strong acceptance & support

Professor, male, member of a National Research Council:

“ I think it is very important. I think it is a significant issue. I think it is good that the Academy of Finland [the National Research Council organisation] has taken up among the first in Finland a relatively strong gender equality plan and it should be further developed. It is… it is a significant issue.”

* Husu 2007

research funding vs academic recruitment
Research funding vs. academic recruitment
  • Professor, female, expert/evaluator tasks in allocating intra-university research funding:

“Yes, I do think it is quite apparent. I think the situation [when it comes to gender balance] has changed especially in allocation of research funding, it is remarkably better now than it was earlier, after it has become as if a duty to place both women and men among the experts. The situation [gender balance] is much better in research funding allocation than it is in recruitment to academic posts. “

* Husu 2007

problematizing women s expertise
Problematizing women’s expertise

Professor, male, Chair of a National Research Council:

“Well, in a way we are so used to it in Finland that it is sort of not questioned… of course [pause] and I see it as important. But I mean I am not one of those….I do not sort of want [long pause] that it would be some forced criterion so that if there is such a situation that we know that there is a female expert who is clearly… one could say… weaker, we have to use her only because she is a woman. So I think we do then somewhat make a disservice for the issue. But as such kind of a general principle it is good.”

* Husu 2007

slide37
Professor emerita Pirjo Mäkelä, the first female academician* in Finland :

“ I would be very suspicious of a committee with 80 % of male members.”

* Highest scientific honorary position in Finland

* Husu 2007

slide38
Only in Finland, Norway and Sweden proportion of women members in the scientific boards over 40% - most EU countries below 20 %

* Husu 2007

future european priorities
Future European priorities
  • Women in Science – Excellence and Innovation – Gender Equality in Science, European Commission Staff Working Document 2005
  • Improving scientific excellence by promoting gender awareness and fairness
  • Boosting the numbers of women in leading positions

* Husu 2007

slide41
Increasing gender awareness of scientists evaluating research by
  • developing and implementing special training programmes on potential areas of gender bias

* Husu 2007

slide42
Increasing transparency of screening and selection procedures
  • Guidelines should be developed and implemented
  • Accountability of panels
  • Public advertising of positions
  • Explicit standards of promotion or appointment
  • Using appropriate indicators of performance

* Husu 2007

next eu step
Next EU step
  • EU setting up an expert group on gender and excellence in research funding
  • Report and conference 2009

* Husu 2007