I became quite happy this morning while scanning though the new Chalmers recruitments for new assistant professors in the Area of Advance calls this year (unfortunately this news item went out only on the intranet for some reason, but I will recap with names for easy googling).
Out of 15 recruitments, 10 are women – that’s almost 70%, which must be regarded very positive in terms of gender balance at a university with a male-dominated faculty. Of the five men, only two seem to be of European background, with the other three being non-white from different cultural spheres. In the end, only two out of fifteen (<15%) are the “traditional” Swedish university type (white men) who dominate the Chalmers faculty today.
Well done with the recruitments, especially if these are also the best persons for the positions (which I assume they are given how hard these positions are to get!) Also, good luck to the new PIs, I have already spoken to two of them who will land at the same department as I am in, and I can’t wait to start working with these brilliant minds!
Here’s the complete list of recruitments:
- Mathilde Luneau, Area of Advance Energy – Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
- Alexander Giovannitti, Area of Advance Material – Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
- Varun Chaudhary, Production Area of Advance – Department of Industrial and Materials Science
- Maud Lanau, Sustainable Cities – Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering
- Margaret Holme, Basic science – Department of Biology and Biological Engineering
- Annikka Polster, Health Engineering Area of Advance – Department of Biology and Biological Engineering
- Eszter Lakatos, Health Engineering Area of Advance – Department of Mathematical Sciences
- Elena Pagnin, Information and Communication Technology Area of Advance – Department of Computer Science and Engineering
- Ilaria Torre, Technology in Society – Department of Computer and science engineering
- Kun Gao, Transport Area of Advance – Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering
- Angela Grommet, Excellence Initiative Nano – Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
- Georgia Panopoulou, Basic Science – Department of Space, Earth and Environment
- Hans Chen, Basic Science – Department of Space, Earth and Environment
- Saara Matala, Technology in Society – Department of Technology Management and Economics
- Nils Johan Engelsen, Excellence Initiative Nano – Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience
I would like to sincerely apologize for that I have been terrible at responding to support issues pertaining to ITSx, Metaxa, Atosh etc. lately. I am currently on 50% parental leave and at the same time I am wrapping up three first-author papers, organizing a workshop and preparing a talk. Thus, support issues has been lagging a bit behind the last weeks to be able to cope with everything else. I have been ticking off most (all?) of my support questions the last couple of days, but if I have any remaining issues that I have missed to reply to, please re-send them to me!
I will try to improve response times, but it is hard when I am working less than usual (also, note that I (strangely) don’t get paid for supporting software, so I have to do this on my “sparetime”). My aim is to respond within a few days, so if I have not done so, please resend your e-mail with a friendly reminder that you are waiting for my response. Reminding me will very likely put your question up the priority pile.
So, my advice to becoming dads is: Do take paternal leave. Do take a lot of it. Share responsibilities with your partner. Because what you get back is awesome. (And also you get a good reason not to answer support questions in time.) But finally, don’t plan to wrap up the last couple of year’s worth of work and arrange a conference at the same time as you take out paternal leave. That will only make you feel insufficient at all fronts.
Keep the spirit high!
The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) has made public their grants to the research leaders of the future (link in Swedish), aiming to help and promote young researchers with a lot of potential and ambition to build their own research groups within their fields. 18 persons got 10 million SEK each (roughly 1.5 million USD), and also a leadership education. However, SSF obviously believes that men are superior in building and leading research groups, as 14 of the researchers were men (that’s 78%).
It is often argued that the reason that men get more and larger grants than women  is that they are more abundant in academia and that the over-representation of men will solve itself given sufficient time. This makes the SSF decisions particularly saddening. These 18 researchers represent the future of Swedish research, and SSF thinks that the research of the future is better of being led by… men. Alarmingly, the foundation’s statements on gender equality (in Swedish) says that (my translation):
The foundation for strategic research views gender equality as something self-evident, that should permeate not only the operations of the foundation, but also all activities that the foundation supports. Thus, the foundation strives towards that all treatment should be gender neutral, and that the under-represented gender should be given priority when other merits are similar. In an equal nation, research resources of men and women should always be taken advantage of, within all areas.
Still, only 20% of the chosen researchers are women. You may think this is a one-time-only event, but no, no, no, it’s much worse than this. In 2005, six of 18 researchers chosen were women (33%), in 2002 six out of 23 (26%), and 2008 six of 20 (30%). It seems that the SSF regards equality to mean 70% men, 30% women. That’s pretty bad for a foundation says it “views gender equality as something self-evident, that should permeate not only the operations of the foundation, but only all activities that the foundation supports.” Obviously, the words on equality are just words, and women still have a long way to go before treated equally by foundations supporting research.
In the long run, this inequality only cements the established norm with men on the top of the research departments. Wennerås and Wold wrote in 2000 that “junior scientists’ frustration at the pace of their scientific productivity is normal at the beginning of their careers, when they do most of the benchwork by themselves. But female scientists tend to remain at this level their entire working lives” . Maybe it would be a good idea for the directors of the SSF to read this, and think about what their actions actually mean for the future of strategic research, and contemplate why women are leaving academia to a much larger extent than men . Because research funders has a huge responsibility for the future of the scientific community.
- Wennerås and Wold. Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature (1997) vol. 387 (6631) pp. 341-3
- Wennerås and Wold. A chair of one’s own. Nature (2000) vol. 408 (6813) pp. 647
- Handelsman et al. Careers in science. More women in science. Science (2005) vol. 309 (5738) pp. 1190-1