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Academic women and gendered universities. Recent research and policy interventions Dr. Liisa Husu, University of Helsinki. If I could work in an equal world….

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academic women and gendered universities

Academic women and gendered universities

Recent research and policy interventions

Dr. Liisa Husu, University of Helsinki

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

if i could work in an equal world
If I could work in an equal world…
  • “It is in all kind of ways just in this kind of everyday life, after you have become conscious of this problem, that your gender is an obstacle, so after that it takes, at least for me it takes energy, because it is against my sense of justice.
  • If I think, that if I could work in an equal world, I would work much more effectively. I would not need to worry about my own … insulting my own sense of justice, because to my mind, it is one such kind of a large, large reserve, that this world loses --- that we are not allowed to be equal, we are not allowed, we have to ---
  • so if we already now have shown that we are terribly competent and effective, what would we be then, when we did not need to fight and use energy and feel bad in that way. “

Young researcher in natural sciences

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

why promote women in academia
Why promote women in academia?
  • Traditional perspective: “women’s issues”: women are the problem, or women have problems
  • Change in conceptualising the issue: “gendered and gendering academia”: focus on academic and scientific organisations, how they treat women and men & produce and reproduce gendered hierarchies

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

sandra harding and elizabeth mcgregor world science report 1995
Sandra Harding and Elizabeth McGregor (World Science Report 1995):
  • “Such a conceptual shift from a deficiency model of girls and women to a deficiency model of science and science education is increasingly widely regarded as crucial if women are to receive equitable treatment in sciences, and the sciences are to b e able to take advantage of the potential women scientists and technologists can offer.”

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide5
Human rights perspective: each individual should have a right to realize his/her potential regardless of gender – inequality is a human rights violation

Research system perspective: best talents should be recruited regardless of gender – equality equals quality

Societal perspective: investments for educating and training women should not go wasted – inequality is an economical issue

Epistemological perspective: A more diverse academic community produces more multifaceted research and asks different questions – equality produces better science

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide6

PROPORTION OF POPULATION WITH TERTIARY DEGREES AMONG WORKING AGE POPULATION (25 – 64) BY GENDER IN EU-COUNTRIES IN 1999, % Source: Eurostat: Educational attainment levels in Europe in the 1990s

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

percentage of women among academic staff who are grade a full professor in eu countries in 2000
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN AMONG ACADEMIC STAFF WHO ARE GRADE A (FULL PROFESSOR) IN EU COUNTRIES IN 2000

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

factors influencing the position of women in academia
Factors influencing the position of women in academia
  • Gender system of the society
  • University and research system

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

gender system
Gender system
  • History of women’s employment and education
  • Women’s current labour market situation in general
  • Child care provisions
  • Prevalent ideologies concerning gender equality
  • Gender equality legislation

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

university and research system
University and Research System
  • The heritage of women’s education (early – late entry into universities)
  • Women’s participation trends
  • Horizontal and vertical gender segregation
  • Gender distribution of gate-keepers
  • Promotion systems - transparency

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

university and research system11
… University and Research system
  • Mobility demands
  • Age and time limits in advancement and promotion (academic age vs. biological age
  • Provisions to reconcile work and family
  • Gender equality promotion and policies in universities – also seemingly gender neutral practices may have gendered outcomes
  • Position of women’s studies in universities

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

the finnish setting
The Finnish setting
  • High overall gender equality (UNDP)
  • Women’s full time employment
  • Mothers predominantly in paid employment, full-time
  • Fertility rate higher than EU average (estimate 1.8 in 2004)
  • Public provisions to reconciliate work and family

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide13
Women’s long term political participation – full political rights 1906; female President!

Gender equality legislation since 1987

R&D investment among the highest in the world

Gender segregated labour market

Few women in positions of power regardless of sector

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide14

Sexism, Support and Survival in Academia

Academic Women

and Hidden Discrimination

in Finland

Liisa Husu

University of Helsinki, Social Psychological Studies 6, 2001,

383 pp., ISBN 952-10-0164-x

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

research questions
Research questions
  • What kind of discrimination, especially hidden/covert discrimination academic women encounter in the scientific community?
  • How do they interpret these experiences and respond to discrimination?
  • From where, whom and how do academic women receive social support in their career?
  • What kind of conscious or less conscious survival strategies they use?

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide16
Qualitative study with 102 informants
  • Interviews, written accounts
  • 11 universities, 33 disciplines
  • All major disciplinary fields
  • From young academics to professors and “leavers”
  • Mothers and non-mothers
  • Feminists and non-feminists
  • Data gathered in 1995-1999

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

from blatant to more hidden discrimination
From blatant to more hidden discrimination
  • As a result of anti-discrimination policies and legislation, sexism and discrimination have not vanished but have changed from a more blatant sexism towards less obvious one

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

paula caplan 1993 lifting a ton of feathers p 17
Paula Caplan (1993): Lifting a Ton of Feathers, p. 17

Typically, when one form of prejudice (such as sexism or racism) is labelled as unacceptable, it does not simply vanish; rather it tends to take increasingly subtler forms, thus protecting the prejudiced person from both social and legal accusations

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

sex gender discrimination
Sex/gender discrimination
  • Unequal and harmful treatment of people because of their sex (Benokraitis & Feagin 1995)
  • Related concepts:
  • Sexism, everyday sexism
  • Micro-inequities
  • Gender harassment
  • Opaque violence

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

overt blatant subtle and covert discrimination benokraitis feag n 1995
Overt/blatant, subtle and covert discrimination (Benokraitis & Feagín 1995)
  • Overt discrimination: unequal and harmful treatment of women that is typically intentional, quite visible and easily documented
  • Subtle discrimination: unequal and harmful treatment that is visible but not often noticed because we have internalised sexist behaviour as “normal”, “natural” or “acceptable”.

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide21
Covert discrimination: unequal and harmful treatment that is hidden, purposeful, and often maliciously motivated and difficult to document

Hidden discrimination:

Subtle + covert discrimination

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

universities as gendered organisations
Universities as gendered organisations
  • Seemingly gender-neutral but gender constantly negotiated
  • Gendered processes that produce and reproduce inequalities:
  • Gender divisions (hierarchies, pay)
  • Gendered symbols (masters, fellows)
  • Gendered interaction (networks, invisibility)
  • Gendered understanding of one’s place in the organisation (e.g. exclusion explained as one’s own choice)

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

some main results
Some main results
  • Discrimination experiences as processes
  • Perception and recognition of discrimination a multifaceted phenomenon
  • Personal and social costs of recognising discrimination
  • Is it gender or something else: the entangled nature of discrimination

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

results
…results
  • The illusion of fairness
  • Variety of forms and arenas:
  • Organisation culture
  • Invisibility, exclusion, isolation
  • Sex-role spill-over
  • Recruitment & career advancement

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

results25
… results
  • Evaluation of merits
  • Formal and informal division of labour
  • Access to office and laboratory space
  • Access to secretarial help
  • Access to information
  • Doctoral years especially vulnerable

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide26
I think I have received just treatment, in official matters, mostly. So what has been an obstacle has been sort of unofficial. It really was like a revelation to me in adult age, because I am more from an upper class family, always been good in school, among the three best in class, I do not have any visible handicaps, I am quite quick in my speech and have good language skills, so I did not have any kind of social handicaps until adult age.

Doctor in human sciences, born in the 1950s

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

slide27
I grew up believing that no one has any reason to presume that I would not be capable of something, because I was rather above the average on all these visible social attributes. But when I came to the university I had a couple of sort of shocks, when I wondered, that what is it --- what was wrong with me, why couldn’t I? And then I realized that oh dear, he [the professor] wants a boy. As if he was waiting until a suitable male student came along. And I realized that my credibility at the university is weakened by the fact that I happen to be a woman, and that was something I had never realized earlier, and I never on the whole realized that something could weaken my credibility socially”.

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

if i was a young man
If I was a young man…
  • “Oh my goodness, if I was a young man, I would be accepted in a quite different way, and I would have been pushed forwards. Some old professor would mentor me, would get me grants, take me to the sauna and explain to me all the networks and so on ... But I am outside all that. But in fact I want to be, because I feel it is terribly important that I do things as I do. That I am androgynous, that I am not like a wo­­man in that way, I mean socialised as a wo­man in that way ... it is frightening. Certainly it is terribly threatening the independence that I radiate, such as that I grasp the task and I do it. And on the other hand, a certain warmth that I also have confuses people. I am not a spinster or bitter or something, they have difficulties understanding it. But for men, absolutely the fact that I am fully independent, it is atavistically threatening to them. “
  • Professor, single, early forties, natural sciences

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

social support
Social support
  • Strongly gendered: female professors and female colleagues important
  • Common to have only scarce support from one’s own setting
  • Active search for support from outside own setting
  • Family and partner important support in career

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

survival strategies
Survival strategies
  • Acting and reflecting
  • Strategy “repertoires”
  • Action strategies:
  • Personal
  • Interactional
  • Organisational

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

personal action strategies
Efficiency, effective time management

Timing or shortening parental leave

Sharing parental leave with partner

Managing appearances and voice

Emphasising motherhood to prevent sexual harassment

Personal action strategies

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

interactional survival strategies
Interactional survival strategies
  • Sharing and active search for support
  • Creating support networks
  • Building alliances with other women
  • Protecting male colleagues’ face & ego in interaction
  • Using humour in interaction

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

organisational survival strategies
Organisational survival strategies
  • Direct interventions
  • Mentoring and supporting younger female colleagues
  • Formal discrimination complaints
  • Learning the tricks of the trade: learn to know the system and use it!
  • Learning social mobility in the structure

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

reflective strategies
Reflective strategies:
  • Alternative future: keeping open a back door or back gate
  • New light through dramatic life experiences
  • Perseverance, “sisu”
  • Accepting loneliness

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

everything helps
Everything helps…
  • “Generally, let’s say that discussion helps, one cannot forbid stupidity by law; violence, aggression, domestic fights cannot be forbidden by law. But there are many such people that nothing helps, they have only to pass away [laughs]. But then there are also quite many people who are surprised that oh dear, this did not come into my mind at all. And in that sense, bringing out examples, publicity, writing and different channels, where you can then complain, or quarrels that do not lead anywhere, but keep the issue on the agenda, because this issue [of gender equality] has not gone fully through but it should be kept up all the time, that there is a new macho generation of young blokes growing up. --- “ Professor in human sciences

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

points of policy intervention harding mcgregor 1995
Points of policy intervention (Harding & McGregor 1995)

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools strategies for policy interventions 1
Assessment of the environment:

Institutional self-evaluation questionnaires

Climate evaluation and monitoring surveys

Responsibility centres for equality evaluation, monitoring & reporting

Foreign review panels

Recruitment:

Open advertising and competition for posts

Pro-active search techniques using women’s professional networks, NGOS, internet to seek qualified female candidates

Gender balanced interviewing teams and recruitment committees

Gender neutral interviewing techniques & formats

Tools & Strategies for policy interventions (1)

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools strategies 2
Targets for hiring qualified female professionals

Designated fellowships for women

Flexible overseas scholarships for women in science

Retention

Senior management support; corporate policy, equality action plans

Policies on gender and sexual harassment

Guidelines on language, illustrations and visual materials

High visibility ombudspersons; women on grievance committees

… Tools & strategies 2

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools strategies 3
Appointment of women to powerful and visibility committees

Institutional support for professional women’s networks and internet policy discussion groups

Recognition, support and reward of role model and mentoring programmes

Supportive spousal employment programmes

On-site childcare facilities and elder care services

… Tools & strategies 3

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools and strategies 4
PROMOTION:

Flexible tenure and promotion criteria; changed reward system

Succession planning and career counselling

Equity targets with timelines and statistical tracking

Regular public reporting of performance

Building a pipeline of female candidates

Gender neutral, bias-free performance appraisal system

… Tools and strategies 4

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools and strategies 5
RE-ENTRY:

Flexi-time, flexi-location, job-sharing options

Return to work directory on refresher courses, childcare options, mentors, role models, career counseling

Career break schemes and re-entry refresher courses

Childcare allowances for applicants

Progressive parental leave policies

… Tools and strategies 5

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools strategies 6
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT:

Gender sensitivity training for teachers, students & staff

Pedagogical training for teachers; curriculum revision;

Recognition of diverse ways of doing science and differing gender patterns in

communication and learning styles

Gender-neutral language, images, illustrations

Training on gender, interviewing techniques, combating harassment

Executive level internships for women

… Tools & strategies 6

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

tools strategies 7
PAY:

Pay equity

Equity in research funding

SEPARATION:

Gender equity in separation packages

Exit interviews with women

Source: Harding and

McGregor 1995 in World Science Report

… Tools & strategies 7

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

promoting gender equality in the university of helsinki
Promoting gender equality in the University of Helsinki
  • Gender equality committee appointed by the University Board, chaired by the Vice Rector
  • Gender equality adviser, full-time position
  • Gender equality network: each department and institute has a contact person
  • Email distribution list for gender equality committee members both nationally and inside university

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

activities
Activities
  • Gender equality plans since early 1990s
  • Anti-discrimination plan (concerning

other discrimination grounds than gender (ethnicity, age, disability etc.) since 2001

  • Drafted by the Equality Committee, accepted by the Consistorium (the highest decision making body of the University)
  • Guidelines how to prevent sexual harassment since mid-1990s

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

activities46
… Activities
  • Evaluations of the plans
  • Mainstreaming gender equality in all activities throughout the university
  • Annual funding for gender equality projects
  • Annual gender equality price
  • Women’s studies/gender studies promotion as part of gender equality promotion

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004

go electronic join the european network on gender equality in he
Go Electronic! JOIN THE EUROPEAN NETWORK ON GENDER EQUALITY IN HE
  • An electronic discussion list to discuss and share information on gender equality in HE in Europe.
  • Over 330 members from 30 countries and five continents (2004).
  • Hosted by the University of Helsinki, moderated by Liisa Husu and Terhi Saarikoski.
  • How to join: Send an email with the text SUBSCRIBE EQ-UNI to majordomo@helsinki.fi.

Liisa Husu * University of Helsinki * 2004