Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gender equality a quality issue

With discrimination sadly still being an active force behind faculty composition - especially at higher career stages - and with Sweden not being an exception however much we would like it to be, it is good to remind ourselves that gender inequality is not a "women's problem"- it is a quality problem that should concern everyone. When recruitment and quality assessment procedures are clouded by well documented biases (see below for a few links) we do not make a fair judgement of scientific value. If we let mediocre science slip by because the first name author is a man, or let superb science stand by the side because the principle investigator is a women we are not doing are jobs right.

Are we really going to be OK with that?

In academia we proudly defend our right to moderate our own, to assess quality and to determine scientific value. If we are to live up to that trust we have to take an active stand against discrimination, based on gender and based on other factors. We have to do more than notice the problem - we have to take active part, starting with our own biases.

A seminar on gender equality in academia organized by Lynn Kamerlin at Uppsala University lead to an constructive discussion about how to empower women in science with several good suggestions.

  • Educate everyone involved in application processes in the biases involved
  • Train yourself to be aware of your own biases
  • Form mentorship programs
  • Provide career support
  • Work actively to include women in panels and conferences, but avoid getting them boggled in busywork.
  • Critically evaluate who does what works at the department, big and small
  • Highlight outstanding women
  • Speak up about problems you encounter
  • Discuss discrimination as a science quality issue

    We were also reminded not to lose hope. Even if the statistics can be incredibly depressing things are getting better. And we can make a HUGE difference for ourselves and those around us.

    Test your own biases

    Nepotism and sexism in peer-review

    The different worlds of academia: a horizontal analysis of gender equality in Swedish higher education

    Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students

    Women’s equality in the Scandinavian academy: a distant dream?

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