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The meaning of words

We have been working on gender equality, diversity and equal conditions and opportunities issues for some time. What does this mean?

This is something many people outside KTH ask. Within KTH, we have given these issues the abbreviation JML from the Swedish words for them. I will come back to this abbreviation but would first like to start by looking at several other important concepts to increase understanding of the area. I am pretty often presented in public contexts and media as an equality researcher. Which makes me want to immediately stand up and correct this. The words have meanings and sometimes it is important to clarify differences.

The concepts that can be found in steering documents of various kinds at KTH are primarily gender and equality. For instance, papers have been written that knowledge and awareness about both these concepts should be integrated into education to enable students to contribute to a more equal society. Research in the area on the significance of gender can best go under the heading of gender research. As in research in general, gender research embraces a research field with theories, discussions of methods and scientific perspectives. It includes critical looks, peer reviews and dialogues. As a concept, equality is not an academic preserve, it comes from politics with strong roots in practice. Equality is a political goal and a vision.

Back to JML. It stands for gender equality, diversity and equal conditions in Swedish. At some point in the past, this abbreviation was created and spread internally, probably because it seemed practical and relevant as a heading for wide-ranging change work.

A funny thing happened to me recently on an internal leadership course, where I was invited to talk about the work we are doing on equality, diversity and equal conditions. A woman came up to me after the presentation and explained with a laugh that she knew how the abbreviation JML originally came about. She was namely the person who had proposed the name for a group at one of the KTH schools a few years earlier. Instead of calling themselves an equality group, they used JML group for short. The name stuck, spread and lived on. If anyone else would like to lay claim to it, please get in touch.