Skip to content

How can we monitor cultural change?

How can we measure progress when it comes to gender equality? One way is to make a list and then tick things off. Statistics Sweden has created a set of gender-based statistics that are invaluable for all change work in Sweden.

Statistics of the gender balance in different categories and salary mapping are produced in a similar way at KTH to detect unreasonable salary differences. The integration of gender equality, diversity and equal treatment into study programmes is monitored in the quality assurance system. All the above are taken into consideration when gender equality work is analysed. But how can we monitor initiatives that cannot be measured quantitatively in the first instance? There are qualitative methods for monitoring and analysing cultural change, for example, in the same way as there are qualitative methods in research.

I have been using a couple of interactive methods for many years, where I can obtain and get a sense of values, norms, and cultural notions. I often do this to take a cultural temperature reading to provide guidance in how a course can be organised to achieve the best results based on the circumstances of the group. Over time, these exercises build patterns that help make changes more visible.

One method I tend to use in groups is the gender equality scale, where participants are asked to position themselves on an inequality to equality scale. The second step in this exercise is where I ask them why they have chosen a certain position, from which different dimensions of equality/inequality are then revealed, described and evaluated.

Experiences of inequality usually result in lower positions on the scale, while positive experiences result in higher positions. Something that has occurred in recent years is that change work as a dimension has often been raised at KTH. Both students and employees say that despite various examples of inequality being raised, ongoing work to increase equality helps balance up the total picture. Many people maintain that this issue is on the agenda and is taken seriously, which influences their overall assessment.

I interpret this as a win, a sign of a cultural change.