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Plan for gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities

During the period 2018-2020

Higher education institutions in Sweden have been tasked with producing a plan for how they intend to develop their gender mainstreaming work, to ensure that their organisation contributes to the achievement of the gender equality policy goals (prop. 2008/09, bet 2008/09:AU1, rskr. 2008/09:115), e.g. on issues of equal opportunities for career paths, gendered choice of studies and completion rates. The plan is to include a description of the way in which gender equality will be integrated to become part of ordinary activities.

The Department of Political Science’s plan for gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities is part of this work. The plan was approved by the board of the Department of Political Science on 31 January 2018.

Gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities – what is it?

Gender mainstreaming entails organising, evaluating and developing the decision-making and implementation processes in an organisation in such a way as to ensure that all those normally involved take account of gender equality aspects at all levels and in all stages of these processes. The work is both goal-oriented and process-oriented, and aims to change the power structures which result in discriminating effects for women and men. This presumes a continuous analysis of the procedures and documentation processes within the organisation, as well as a problematisation and challenge of limiting norms and informal power structures.

However, gender mainstreaming work cannot be isolated to gender aspects alone. Gender tends to co-vary with other power structures in society – e.g. ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation and age – which is why it is important to analyse gender equality issues from an intersectional and more principle-oriented equal opportunities perspective. Gender mainstreaming is also to be understood as a central part of the organisation’s work environment in a more general sense. To that extent, the work on gender mainstreaming has clear points of contact with both the department’s equal opportunities and diversity work and its systematic work environment management.

Gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities work can be simplified into four partly overlapping stages:

  1. Inventory of problems to identify risks and obstacles in the organisation, and to map previous measures;
  2. Analysis, identifying possible causes;
  3. Measures taken on the basis of identified problems/causes;
  4. Follow-up and evaluation of measures taken.

All these stages are implemented in cooperation with the parties concerned and should be documented in such a way as to enable continuous follow-up.

In addition to this, the issues of gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities can be approached in several ways, on the basis of the activities conducted within the framework of higher education institutions. One way is to start from that which is usually designated as the core activity of a university department, namely research, education and external engagement, and the associated rules, management and support processes. Gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities would consequently entail analysis of, and measures related to, decision-making and implementation processes within each core area and the associated rules, management and support processes. Another way is to start from the two main roles that a university department formally has – the role of employer and the role of education provider respectively – and to organise the work with gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities on the basis of these. The work would then entail analysis of, and measures related to, decision-making and implementation processes related to each role and the associated rules, management and support processes. There could be reasons, within the framework of such a role-based perspective, also to emphasise a third role or function, where the roles of employer and education provider coincide in a complex manner and which could give rise to particular considerations, namely in the role as principal for doctoral studies.

A third, partially overlapping way of approaching the question of gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities is to particularly identify a number of crucial decision-making and implementation processes in the organisation and specifically aim the work at these, e.g. various forms of recruitment and promotion procedures, informal career paths, salary- formation and professional development processes, systematic work environment management, organisation of teaching or management and communication processes. Such processes or “focus areas” can partly cross role boundaries and affect various parts of the organisation, but are united by their central significance for the organisation and are characterised by similar problems and challenges concerning issues of gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities.

Roles, focus areas and “critical issues” – a model for the work on gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities

The Department of Political Science has chosen to use an approach which is both role- oriented and focus area-based in its gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities work. This choice has several advantages. On the one hand, the role-orientation provides breadth in the work and a direct connection to the regulations governing the organisation which are often clearly linked to the roles, both of employer and of education provider. On the other hand, the emphasis on activity and responsibility that follows from a focus on the exercise of a role provides the conditions to make the gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities work more concrete and therefore clearer. In parallel, the identification of a few specific central decision-making and implementation processes in the organisation as special focus areas enables the systematic prioritisation of gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities work and gives it a clear short-term direction.

As previously stated, gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities work in general is both goal- and process-oriented and aims to organise, evaluate and develop decision-making and implementation processes so that gender equality and equal opportunities aspects are taken into account at all levels and at all stages of the processes by those who are normally involved. The department has therefore also chosen to work with a format that we call “critical issues”. The intention is to problematise and review the organisation in its central decision-making and implementation processes, on the basis of a set of critical issues concerning gender equality and equal opportunities aspects, rather than imposing on the organisation any specific measures formulated in advance. This kind of recurrent problematisation and awareness-raising issues enable the various stages of the integration process to be linked together, while allowing gender equality and equal opportunities work to be more adapted to the situation and thereby more relevant and powerful. In addition, insofar as this problematisation work is also documented with regard to the outcomes of the critical issues and the measures brought about, the requirement for documentation is also met.

The following sections contain a series of examples of such critical issues, which can be used by participants in the department’s decision-making and implementation processes as part of their gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities work. The issues are to be considered as suggestions and can usefully be complemented by other issues more adapted to the situation; they are also to be seen as open problematisation, rather than as directives. Hence, the issues can be used as tools for reflection, e.g. by the management team, by the department board, in the recruitment committee, in the budget committee, in the board of doctoral students, at teacher meetings, by teams of teachers and by the individual teacher.

The critical issues are, in compliance with the model chosen by the department, structured in two ways. On the one hand, the issues are broadly organised on the basis of the organisation’s three main roles (as an employer, education provider and principal for research studies respectively); on the other hand, within these separate roles, certain issues regarding important decision and implementation processes that are deemed to be particularly urgent are highlighted.

Employer

  • Working conditions
  • Provisions and practice concerning salaries and other terms of employment
  • Recruitment and promotion of researchers, teachers and administrative staff
  • Informal career paths
  • Training and other professional development of employees
  • Opportunities to combine gainful employment with various life situations
  • Management, communication and support processes

Education provider

  • Procedures for admission and recruitment of first- and second-cycle students
  • Content of teaching
  • Form of teaching
  • Examination and assessment of study performance within first- and second- cycle education
  • Evaluation and student influence
  • Opportunities to combine studies with various life situations

Principal for doctoral studies

  • Procedures for admission and recruitment of doctoral students
  • Doctoral students’ working conditions
  • Form and content of doctoral studies (incl. supervision)
  • Examination and assessment of study performance in doctoral studies
  • Opportunities to combine doctoral studies with various life situations
     

Gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities in three roles

Below are critical questions to ask as an employer, education provider and principal for doctoral studies regarding certain important decision and implementation processes.

Employer

Working conditions (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, all employees, GED- group):

  • Are gender equality and equal opportunity issues taken into account in systematic work environment management? Is further expertise needed with regard to gender, power and intersectionality in systematic work environment management?
  • How do the rules of procedure address the management of work environment- related events/problems? How are procedures documented and how do the rules ensure that problems/events are taken into account in a general analysis of the organisation’s work environment? Can the problem/event be understood as a possible expression of a gendered/unequal organisational culture?
  • Is there a clear notice order when it comes to harassment?
  • Can the occurrence of ill health among employees be understood as an expression of gender inequality/unequal opportunities in the work environment?
  • Is a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective integrated when it comes to issues of the value of work and work content, power over one’s own working hours and development opportunities within the framework of one’s own employment?

Provisions and practice regarding salaries and other terms of employment (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, all employees, GED- group):

  • In what way are salary differences mapped and analysed and how are any unjustified salary differences taken into account?
  • Are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects problematised concerning the allocation of assignments of an “academic housekeeping” nature?
  • How are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the allocation of time between teaching, research, external engagement and administration among the department’s employees?
  • Has the allocation of government funding for research in favour of the department been analysed from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • What collaborative efforts with research funders and other agents could reinforce the work of counteracting unequal conditions in academia?
  • Are the terms of employment for technical-administrative staff equal?
  • How are the demands and expectations for availability of administrative staff analysed with regard to gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Are the terms of employment for short-term employees equal?
  • Are there “zones of employment” not reached by the work on gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities
  • Recruitment and promotion of researchers, teachers and administrative staff
  • (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, recruitment committee, all employees, GED-group)
  • In what way are issues of gender equality and equal opportunities taken into account in recruitment and promotion processes concerning researchers, teachers and administrative staff? Are there risks that various preparatory and decision- making processes might create or maintain gendered and other inequalities?
  • Are the organisational descriptions and texts for vacancy announcements analysed from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • In what way are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the appointment of experts for recruitment and promotion of teaching staff? How is expertise in gender and equality matters guaranteed in nominating groups and in the choice of experts?
  • Are the principles for the evaluation of qualifications and collegial assessment problematised on the basis of issues of gender equality and equal opportunities in the recruitment and promotion of teaching staff? Are the assessment criteria neutral when considered from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • In what way are gender equality and equal opportunities issues taken into account in the communication between the department and the academic appointments board in cases of recruitment? Is there any follow-up of the assessment outcomes on the basis of gender equality and equal opportunities aspects?
  • How are external assignments allocated (expert assignments, grading committee assignments, assignments as external reviewer) and how is this process evaluated internally?
  • In what way do the access to and forms of career development positions (postdocs, associate senior lecturerships, etc.) affect the organisation from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • What consequences does international recruitment have on the organisation from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • What procedures are in place to facilitate mobility and internationalisation, and how do they counteract gendered and other inequality?
  • Can requirements and expectations of accessibility concerning administrative staff affect the opportunity to recruit?

Informal career paths (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, board of supervisors, all employees, GED-group):

  • In what way are gender equality aspects taken into account in the allocation of various – formal and informal – elected offices at the department (management assignments, assignments as external reviewer, entertainment assignments, supervision assignments, etc.)?
  • How does the allocation of supervisors on the third-cycle programme take place, and what are the consequences, from the perspective of gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • How are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the allocation of various commissioned duties at the department (management duties, development duties, duties as an internal critical reviewer, duties as an elected representative, duties as a doctoral student supervisor, etc.)?
  • Has the access to formal and informal networks among the staff at the department, and the impact this has on their careers, been analysed from the perspective of gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Has the inclination to apply for and obtain research funding among the department’s employees been analysed from a gender equality perspective?
  • Has the allocation of direct government funding for research to the department been analysed from the perspective of gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Has the presence of “strong research teams” and the opportunity to exercise informal power at the department through them been analysed from a gender equality perspective?

Training and other professional development of employees (of particularly relevance to: department management, all employees, GED-group):

  • How does the department prioritise the time employees get for professional development within their positions?

Opportunities to combine gainful employment and a career with various life situations (of particularly relevance to: department management, all employees, GED-group):

  • Are there strategies which facilitate the combination of a career as a researcher with various life situations (parenthood, caring for a relative, etc.)?
  • What procedures are in place to facilitate mobility and internationalisation and how do they counteract gendered and other inequalities?

Management, communication and support processes (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, GED-group):

  • How is academic management characterised by norms concerning gender and what consequences does this have on research, teaching and external engagement with regard to work and study environments, recruitment and career paths, for example?
  • How is the work on gender mainstreaming and equal opportunities communicated internally and externally
  • Are employees aware that gender equality is to be integrated into regular activities?
  • Are employees aware of the procedures on how to deal with harassment?
  • What channels are used for communication about research, teaching and external engagement and how does the department ensure that the content (text and images) is neutral from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • Are the administrative support systems neutral from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • What consequences does the financial governance have (direct government funding, education funding, co-financing models, internal development investments, etc.) on any unequal conditions in research, education and external engagement?
  • What functions are involved in the planning and follow-up work in the organisation and how is the need for knowledge on gender and equal opportunities met in this work?

Education provider

Admission and recruitment procedure regarding first- and second cycle students (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, student counselling, GED-group):

  • Are there gendered patterns in the choice of studies? If such patterns exist, how is student recruitment working to break them? What external engagement initiatives are implemented with other agents to break these patterns?
  • Are there other power structures which tend to affect the choice of studies and how do these interact with gender?
  • How does the department work with widening participation and does it conduct gender equality analyses within the framework of this work?
  • Are there gender patterns with regard to throughput and non-completion of studies among students in first- and second-cycle education?
  • Are there other power structures that tend to affect throughput and non- completion of studies among students in first- and second-cycle education?

Content of teaching (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, teachers, GED-group):

Course syllabus work

  • Are the learning outcomes, course content and quality criteria problematised in terms of gender equality and equal opportunities within first- and second-cycle education?
  • Have the course syllabi and other steering documents been reviewed with regard to gender equality and equal opportunities and has this been made clear to first- and second-cycle students?
  • What are the general syllabi, course syllabi and various degree and course learning outcomes in research studies like from the point of view of gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • How are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the courses offered within research studies?

Required reading

  • Are the authors of the required reading of different genders, and have diversity aspects been considered in the choice of course literature?
  • Is literature that explicitly analyses the relevant subject from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective used?
  • When literature that lacks a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective is used, is this problematised in teaching?
  • Is the required reading free of expressions of sexism, homophobia and racism (in the case this is not the subject of the course)?

Teaching staff skills

  • Have the lecturers undergone training regarding gender equality and equal opportunities perspectives in teaching?
  • Do the lecturers have knowledge about gender equality, equal opportunities and diversity as concepts, perspectives and research fields and in what way is this expressed in their teaching?
  • Are the lecturers familiar with research concerning gender equality and equal opportunities which links to the relevant subject and how is this expressed in their teaching?

Perspectives in teaching

  • Are established concepts, theories and methods problematised with regard to gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Are concrete examples used in teaching which directly or indirectly make gender equality and equal opportunities issues topical?

Form of teaching (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, teachers, GED-group):

The study environment

  • How are gender coding and other inequalities of the study environment counteracted?
  • Is the atmosphere of discussion (tone and opportunity to speak) monitored with regard to gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Is there a conscious and systematic strategy in place for varying group composition?
  • Are students encouraged to draw attention to gender equality and equal opportunities issues in lectures and seminars and in other learning situations (e.g. through the gender equality, equal opportunities and diversity representative)?

Lecturers in teaching situations

  • What conditions and what scope for action do lecturers, individually and collegially, have to gender mainstream their teaching? Do the conditions and scope vary depending on the subject area or specialisation in which the teaching takes place?
  • Do the lecturers reflect on their own and the students’ role from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective (who the lecturer is in relation to the students and what power and opportunity he or she has to influence the power structures in teaching situations)?
  • Do the lecturers reflect on how different people’s questions and comments are received and addressed?

Learning activities

  • Are various learning activities used to meet the students’ different learning styles?
  • Are the students’ experiences used in teaching?
  • Are various personal pronouns used in examples and reasoning?
  • What linguistic forms of address, choice of words, metaphors and models are used in teaching? Are they gender neutral?
  • Are opportunities given for lecturers and students to take up and discuss e.g.:
    • How speaking time is allocated between different people in teaching?
    • How different people’s questions and comments are received in teaching?
    • How various master suppression techniques and affirmation techniques can manifest themselves in teaching?

Examination and assessment of study performance within first- and second cycle education
(of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, teachers, GED-group):

  • Which quality criteria form the basis for the valuation of the students’ performances, and are they neutral from the perspective of gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Are written exams anonymised as far as possible? Has anonymous examination been considered?
  • Are different forms of assessment used to accommodate the students’ different learning styles?
  • Do the examiners include people of different genders and backgrounds?
  • Are relevant issues about gender equality and equal opportunities taken into account in exams?

Course evaluation and student influence (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, student counselling, teachers, GED-group):

  • What opportunities do students have to influence and change the power structures that are possibly reproduced on the study programme?
  • Are gender equality and equal opportunities taken into account in course evaluations of first- and second-cycle education?
  • Are the students asked questions about how they experience gender equality and equal opportunities in teaching?
  • Are comments and requests concerning gender equality and equal opportunities from students within first- and second-cycle education followed up?
  • How can the forms and channels for student influence be affected and changed so that students’ commitment to integrating gender equality and equal opportunities into the programme content, implementation and subject development is utilised?

Opportunities to combine studies with various life situations (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, student counselling, teachers, GED-group):

  • Are there strategies that facilitate the combination of studies with various life situations, e.g. parenthood?

Principal for doctoral studies

Admission and recruitment of doctoral students (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, recruitment committee, board of supervisors, GED-group):

  • In what way are gender equality and equal opportunities issues taken into account in the recruitment of doctoral students? Is there a risk that different nominating and decision-making processes create or maintain gendered or other inequality?
  • How is expertise in gender equality and equal opportunities ensured in nominating/admissions committees?
  • What quality criteria form the basis of assessment of applicants to the doctoral studies programme and are they neutral from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • How does the international announcement of doctoral studentship vacancies and the international recruitment of doctoral students affect gender equality and equal opportunities in the doctoral student group?

Doctoral students’ working conditions and influence (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, recruitment committee, board of supervisors, supervisors, doctoral students, GED-group):

  • What consequences does the financial governance of doctoral studies (e.g. direct government funding and external grants) have on doctoral students with regard to their work environment, gender equality and equal opportunities?
  • Can the occurrence of ill health among doctoral students be understood as an expression of a work and study environment which is not gender equal and does not offer equal opportunities?
  • Are there gendered patterns with regard to completion rates and drop-out rates among doctoral students?
  • Are there other power structures which tend to affect the completion rate and drop- out rate among doctoral students?
  • How are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the question of the allocation of teaching, administration and elected offices among doctoral students?
  • Are gender equality and equal opportunities taken into account in course evaluations of third-cycle education?
  • Are comments and requests concerning gender equality and equal opportunities from students within third-cycle education followed up?

The form and content of doctoral studies (incl. supervision) (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, recruitment committee, board of supervisors, supervisors, doctoral students, GED-group):

  • How are supervisors allocated within the doctoral studies programme and what consequences does this have from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • What access do doctoral students have to formal and informal networks and how does this differ e.g. according to the doctoral student’s gender, form of funding, and field of specialisation?
  • How are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the courses offered within the doctoral studies programme?
  • How are the general syllabi, course syllabi and various degree and course learning outcomes within the doctoral studies programme when considered from the point of view of gender equality and equal opportunities?

Examination and assessment of study performance in doctoral studies (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, recruitment committee, board of supervisors, supervisors, doctoral students, GED-group):

  • What quality criteria form the basis of the evaluation of doctoral students’ performance and are they neutral from a gender equality and equal opportunities perspective?
  • In what way are gender equality and equal opportunities aspects taken into account in the choice of external reviewers and the composition of grading committees? How are expertise in gender equality and equal opportunities ensured in the choice of external reviewers and the composition of grading committees?

Opportunities to combine doctoral studies with various life situations (of particularly relevance to: department management, department board, recruitment committee, board of supervisors, supervisors, doctoral students, GED-group):

  • Are there strategies that facilitate the combination of doctoral studies (e.g. organisation of supervision, seminars and meetings) with various life situations, such as parenthood?