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Gender equality is a matter of course for a modern university

KTH engineering programmes are changing all the time to suit the outside world and the job market. Including knowledge about gender equality and sustainable development as part of degree programmes is self-evident for a modern university  – educating people for the future.

Last week, an article was published on our website and some of the reactions to it surprised me. But then it struck me that they rather should be taken as confirmation of just how important it is to drive these issues – that basically concern democracy and justice.

That everyone should have an equal opportunity to apply and, on being accepted, also to study at KTH is of the very greatest importance.

Partly because this benefits the individual naturally, and partly because it strengthens society and in the longer term, is also vital for Swedish competitiveness.

That talented individuals, regardless of gender, with different perspectives, ideas and thoughts, are needed for the development of both society in general and technology in particular, is axiomatic to me.

Perhaps this is especially vital within the technology knowledge sphere that by tradition has many times been primarily a male bastion.

In all the years I have worked at KTH, the issue of promoting talent regardless of gender has been a headache for management irrespective of which government has been in power at the time. Sometimes it is mostly in relation to the numerical imbalance – only 19 percent of our professors are women today.

With an ingrained culture, it will take time to change long-standing patterns in terms of how the capabilities of different people can best be utilised and included. But it can be done.

The effects will become clear by reproducing this on more and more levels and in break rooms in a workplace.

Extensive research has shown for example, that enjoyment, efficiency and productivity all increase when working groups are mixed.  Gender equality is one of our four pillars that both support and drive KTH forwards. (The others are sustainable development, digitalisation and internationalisation.)

Accordingly, as noted, study items about gender equality will be part of all our degree programmes from this coming autumn.

It is no more complicated than that.