Marie Eriksson and Cecilia Kjellgren

Real change through gender mainstreaming

The work with gender mainstreaming at Linnaeus University now enters a new phase. The steering group has been given an extended mandate. In November, when Linnaeus University will host a conference on equal rights, they hope to present a number of concrete changes.

"We are now entering a stage in our work where we are to put the plan into practice and make this work concrete. We are going to establish action plans based on the ten focus areas that have been defined", says Cecilia Kjellgren.

Gender mainstreaming is work carried out at all higher eduction institutions in Sweden and also at a number of other public authorities. This was decided by the government already two years ago. The aim is that all decisions that affect the conditions and rights of people should be permeated by an equality perspective.

"In the environment in which we work, this can be about the allocation of resources for research and the assessment of applications by external experts, but also about who gets the opportunity to attend conferences and be published and in that way receive positive feedback from the research community", Marie Eriksson explains.

The leadership has an important role to play in order to implement the radical change that is needed. There are plans to offer a web-based basic training for members of staff at Linnaeus University, but also specialist training for managers, supervisors and other staff categories. Steering documents and guidelines may also have to be revised.

"If equality work is to become part of our everyday work, it must also become a natural part of our structures. This has been received well within the organisation. We have strong support for our ideas and legitimacy in our continued work. The challenge now is to move from words to deeds", says Eriksson.

In November, Linnaeus University will host the annual conference about equal rights at Swedish higher education institutions. By then, the work is expected to have moved forward significantly, but the confeernce is alos an opportunity to exchange experiences between the higher education institutions on what has been successful and what challenges have been encountered, and how these can be handled during the course of the work.

"We do not see this as a competition on who does equality best or who manages to reach a goal first. It is in everyone's interest to make the changes required to ensure that male and female researchers, staff and students are given the same conditions and opportunities. In the end, it's all about social sustainabaility and the principle of equal rights", Kjellgren concludes.