ERG SES H 03, Gender and Education
In the Nordic countries, mainstream educational and employment policies have embraced the aims of sex equality for some decades. These goals, however, fluctuate under the pressure of other educational and economic demands. In Finland, educational policies are even claimed to increasingly follow the incentives of efficiency and profitability at the expense of equality. Yet, the institutional requirements to promote equality have even tightened as a result of amendments to legislation and transnational recommendations.
In this presentation, I aim to clarify this contradiction by analysing the implementation of sex equality politics in transforming Finnish universities. I ask, how equality requirements are interpreted and translated into practice by actors involved. What kind of institutional position is reserved for equality issues and actors in relation to the latest organisational and administrational changes in academic regime?
This approach is supported by two indications of the change in the view of sex equality. Firstly, the Universities Act of 2009, and the consequent organizational reforms, transformed the juridical position of universities with each becoming either a public corporation or foundation. With the change of the management system and the position of personnel from the holders of offices to employees, the university reform appears as a confirmation of the marketization and management by results, a globally recognised process commenced in Finnish academia since the 1990s. Productization and the economic pressure on universities have altered the management of human resources (Ylijoki, 2010), which the equality work is closely attached to and dependent on.
Secondly, national and organizational equality politics are increasingly transnational. Gender mainstreaming, as the latest equality strategy promoted by transnational organizations, targets mainstream a ‘gender perspective’ into all levels and fields of education and work. Since the 1990s, it has been on the agendas of ILO, UNESCO and the European Union and defined as ‘The (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy-making’ (Council of Europe, 1998). In Finland, the Equality Act obliges universities to promote sex equality, which materialises as administrative equality planning. Echoing mainstreaming definitions quite literally, equality plans suggest taking ‘equality questions into account as a penetrating and central principle’ at all levels, fields and actions, while ‘The practices and structures of the administration ought to be developed in a way that the target of sex equality is included in all decision making’.
The actual implementation of transnationally developed equality politics, however, rather fluctuate at local and organisational levels. From the perspective of domestication, the implementation of transnational models influences local conceptions and policy actions, but at the same time, they are always dependent on and adjusted to the old institutional practices and conditions (Alasuutari 2012). In this case, they are also incorporated into visions of the reformed university. I am particularly interested in the ways equality issues are negotiated at the level of micropolitics, where the interpretations are depended on different interests, actor positions and institutional practices in which the aims and means are adjusted.
The mutual influence between the understanding of sex, (in)equality and different implementation practices of gender mainstreaming is also traced. In literature, the implementation strategies are commonly divided into integrationist and agenda-setting or transformative approaches. Supplemented with the understanding of sex/gender, Squires (2005) has characterized gender mainstreaming strategies into three types: inclusion, reversal and displacement. Based on the data from Finnish academia, I analyse the receiving of mainstreaming principle in universities’ equality actions. I utilize the above divisions and relate them on the central directions of academia embodied in the university reform.
Alastalo, M. & Åkerman, M. (2010) Faktojen jäljillä: asiantuntijahaastattelun analyysi. (Tracing the Facts: The analysis of Expert Interviews) In Ruusuvuori, J., Nikander, P. ja Hyvärinen, M. (Eds). Haastattelun analyysi. Vastapaino. Tampere. Alasuutari, P., & Alasuutari, M. (2012). The domestication of early childhood education plans in Finland. Global Social Policy 12(2), 2012, 109–128. Beveridge, F. & Nott, S. 2002. Mainstreaming: A Case for Optimism and Cynicism. Feminist Legal Studies 10: 299–311. Heikkinen, A., Lammela, J., Liétzen, L., Lätti, J. & Virtanen, E. (2012). Gender mainstreaming: Inclusion or exclusion. In Stolz, S., and Gonon, P. (eds.) Challenges and reforms in vocational education. Aspects of inclusion and exclusion. Bern: Peter Lang AG. 97–118. Lätti, J. (in press) Individualized sex equality in transforming Finnish academia. European Educational Research Journal 15(6) (Special Issue: Gender and Work/Life Interferences in Scientific Careers). 1–19. Lombardo, E. 2005. Integrating or Setting the Agenda? Gender Mainstreaming in the European Constitution-making Process. Social Politics 12 (3): 412–432. Morley, L. (2007). Sister-matic: Gender mainstreaming in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education 12(5–6), 607–620. Morley, L., (1999) Organising Feminisms. the Micropolitics of the Academy. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press Narotzky, S. (2007). The project in the model. Reciprocity, social capital and the politics of ethnographic realism. Current Anthropology 48(3), 403–424. Nevala A and Rinne R (2012) Korkeakoulutuksen muodonmuutos. [The transformation of higher education] In Kettunen P and Simola H (eds.) Tiedon ja osaamisen Suomi. Kasvatus ja koulutus Suomessa 1960-luvulta 2000-luvulle. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. 203–228. Squires, J. (2007). The new politics of gender equality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. UNESCO (2013). Priority Gender Equality Action Plan 2014–2021. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Van Eerdewijk,A. (2014) The micropolitics of evaporation: Gender mainstreaming instruments in practice. Journal of International Development 26(3). Verloo, M. (2005). Displacement and Empowerment: Reflections on the Council of Europe approach to gender mainstreaming and gender equality. Social Politics 12 (3), 344–366. Saarinen, T. (2008) Position of text and discourse analysis in higher education policy research. Studies in Higher Education 33(6), 719–728. Ylijoki O. (2010). Future orientations in episodic labour: Short-term academics as a case in point. Time & Society 19(3), 365–386.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.