Our Science, Technology and Society list publishes books that examine the social, political and economic implications of developments in science and technology.
Recent highlights have included Data Lives, The Imposter as Social Theory and We Have Always Been Cyborgs. Path-breaking book series include Dis-positions: Troubling Methods and Theory in STS and Contemporary Issues in Science Communication.
Science, Technology and Society
The chapter examines the effects of changes in research and innovation (R&I) funding on gendered practices (Korvajärvi, 2012), gender (in)equalities and the formation of women’s career paths in R&I. The context is Finland, where R&I and its funding expanded in the 1990s and 2000s and then declined significantly between 2008/09 and 2015. Drawing on Dorothy Smith’s (2005) institutional ethnography, the chapter analyzes the career histories of Finnish women (N=30) working in research in and outside of academia, in the multidisciplinary field of health technology. Most of the interviewees had lived through both the expansion period and the cuts that emerged in R&I funding in the post-2000s. Many had found opportunities for research work during the period of plentiful funding and had started successful research careers, and then faced the hardening competition of declining resources with experiences of gender inequality and even direct gender discrimination. Gendered (male/female dominated or mixed gender) work communities shaped these inequalities and especially for women researchers with a ‘reproductive body’ (Pecis, 2016) who were treated unequally and even excluded. We argue that significant changes in R&I funding intensify gender inequalities and affect the career paths of women in R&I.
As part of a global trend of improving the societal impact and relevance of science, co-creative platforms for developing new knowledge and innovations are increasingly common in Sweden and internationally (Mauser et al, 2013; Owen et al, 2013; Reypens et al, 2016). This study investigates two Swedish cases – The Gender Academy and Gender Contact Point – in order to scrutinize if, and if so how, the societal impact of gender studies may be reinforced by platforms for academia-society collaboration. Previous studies in the field of social innovation help distinguish mechanisms for organizational and societal transformation in these constellations (Westley et al, 2017; Howaldt et al, 2018). Our study reveals that both platforms engage researchers and stakeholders in innovation processes of joint identification, exploration and solution of societal and organizational challenges, as is common in social innovation. Both struggle, however, to bridge the critical agenda of the researchers and the constructive agendas of the stakeholders. They do this by emphasizing the potential of gender studies to improve organizational competitiveness, innovativeness and attractiveness, on the one hand, while advancing academic knowledge on mechanisms for organizational and societal transformation, on the other.
Despite the ongoing digitalization producing many jobs in rural areas, the recruitment of women into ICT remains a critical challenge. This chapter analyzes the entanglements of the global trend of digitalization with the locally enacted structures of gendered working and living in a rural region of western Norway based on professional-life narratives of 25 women working in ICT. The analysis explores the types of ICT workplaces the women found and the characteristics of working life in the region including the importance of concepts such as ‘place-belongingness’ and the ‘idyllic rurality’. The increase of ICT workplaces in this region has provided opportunities for women to find less traditional work in the region. The findings suggest that the ongoing digitalization across sectors has opened up a particular type of ICT work opportunities that attract women to ICT jobs in the public and private secondary ICT sector. This contributes to a new gendering of ICT work as it includes organizations and industries where ICT expertise is not already occupied by men or images of masculinity.
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The Nordic countries are regarded as frontrunners in promoting equality, yet women’s experiences on the ground are in many ways at odds with this rhetoric.
Putting the spotlight on the lived experiences of women working in tech-driven research and innovation areas in the Nordic countries, this volume explores why, despite numerous programmes, women continue to constitute a minority in these sectors.
The contributors flesh out the differences and similarities across different Nordic countries and explore how the shifts in labour market conditions have impacted on women in Research and Innovation.
This is an invaluable contribution to global debates around the mechanisms that maintain gendered structures in Research and Innovation, from academia to biotechnology and IT.
Women working in information, communication and technology (ICT), more than women in many other occupations, are under a double pressure: as a minority in a male-dominated professional field, and as women in a ‘greedy’ and 24/7 work environment where the ‘ideal worker’ is still shaped according to a male norm involving less responsibility for childcare. This study explores how women in ICT in the gender-egalitarian culture of Norway negotiate the relationship between work and family responsibilities. The analysis builds on interviews with 22 women working in ICT in research, development and innovation across diverse sectors in Norway in 2017–18. Most of these women experienced that their career development required private support and that and work–life balance solutions, including publicly available childcare, were insufficient. Rather it was the partner’s predictable and less greedy work patterns, not work–life balance policies targeting women, that enabled the women to combine ICT work and family responsibilities.
In the Nordic countries, but not just there, women are increasingly living a contradiction, that between a strongly embedded public equality rhetoric and the fact that in emerging, highly technologized work contexts such as ICT and eHealth they constitute a minority despite numerous initiatives set up to increase women’s participation in STEM domains. Why does this continue to be the case? The introduction explores some of the reasons why this continues and sets out the contradictions that govern this state of affairs. It discusses the relation between a fully embedded and highly articulated public equality discourse and one of Nordic exceptionalism in a context where horizontal sex segregation in the labour market, including research and innovation, remains strong. It suggests that the public rhetoric regarding both equality and Nordic exceptionalism makes it difficult to raise dissenting voices, but also, that the persistent gender inequalities in the Nordics vary by country.
The chapter explores women researchers’ career imaginaries in biotechnology at a Finnish university. Biotechnology is a multidisciplinary and female-dominated field which has made fast scientific progress, involving high expectations of commercial success and practical utility in the health care sector. The chapter draws on interviews with 16 women researchers who all have close links to the case study university, where biotechnology belongs to the same faculty as male-dominated medicine. Drawing upon the conceptualizations by Adam and Groves (2007), the chapter investigates the dynamics between ‘the present future’ and ‘the future present’ by asking, how many and what kinds of career futures are there? The chapter shows that intersections of gender, disciplinary hierarchies and the university’s institutional structures shape career imaginaries. These are filled with career paradoxes: the rhetoric of flexible career paths vs. an increasingly standardized and linear tenure track model; fast advancing science vs. the inflexibility of university structures; and the demand for interdisciplinary research vs. discipline-based recruitment procedures.
In the Nordic countries, the labour market participation of women and men has largely reached parity, and women are over-represented among higher education students. At the same time, the share of women in top academic positions remains well below the threshold for a gender balance. In this chapter, we ask what Nordic higher education institutions do to address gender inequalities in academic careers. Our study investigates the use of gender equality measures across a large number of higher education institutions in the Nordic countries, drawing on data collected from universities in Sweden, Finland and Norway in 2019. It highlights specific patterns of the use of gender equality measures and raises the question why these measures are not effective in reducing the persistent inequalities evident in the uneven distribution of women and men in top academic positions.
This chapter explores the ways in which research and innovation as gendered practices and experiences are precarized in academe (Murgia and Poggio, 2019). Drawing on professional biographical interviews conducted in 2017–18 with 30 women and men working in Digital Humanities, an emerging and innovative field in academe, the chapter analyzes how structural, organizational and professional-practice constraints as well as personal biographies shape the opportunities research and innovation afford individual researchers. In invoking the notion of precarization (Standing, 2011), the chapter is less concerned with the effects of the rise of short-term contracts and similar precarizing employment practices in academe (although these certainly feature) than with the structural and organizational ways in which research and innovation are simultaneously invited and disavowed in organizational structures that are not agile but instead work to reproduce the same.
The STS literature on gender in science shows how academic cultures, scientists’ identity-making and gender intersect in multiple and heterogeneous ways. In regard to recruitment processes as well as individual career trajectories, gender is often reduced to a barrier for women in making an academic career. In this chapter, we turn our attention towards early career scientists’ imaginaries of academia and academic life. How do early career scientists reflect upon their possibility of having an academic career? What do they see as ‘boosters’ and ‘blockers’ when it comes to success in academia, and how are these reflections and experiences imbued with gender? The chapter is based on qualitative interviews with early career scientists (PhD students and postdocs) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The interviewees were purposively selected from departments with different levels of gender balance and gender balance change patterns. The chapter demonstrates the role that gender plays in how early career scientists envisage their future careers, and in particular how professorships are connected to over-work, total job dedication and incompatibility with ‘having a life’.