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Awareness and knowledge make changes possible

As I approach the end of my tenure as Vice President for Gender Equality and Core Values, I would like to reflect on developments over these past six years – mainly to hand over to a new management team, but also to energise those who have worked with me for their continued efforts.

A government remit to integrate gender equality issues was an excellent starting point. Based on previous experiences and established research, an extensive problems analysis was conducted, and this laid the foundation for the goals that were set: cohesive organisation, knowledge and awareness, equal conditions and an inclusive culture. Setting up an Equality Office with expert strategists, a strategic management group (JMLA), a Gender and Change Management Programme (GOFL) and several important groups has been absolutely invaluable in everything that has been done. Increasing knowledge and awareness in the area with an academic course, training for recruitment committees, careers development for assistant professors, and a major initiative on training and developing teachers and directors of education, so that they in turn can train all students, has been a high priority.

Without knowledge and awareness, none of the changes we have seen would have been possible. In work on equal conditions, legal requirements have been coordinated with change management to ensure integration. What academic culture do we want, and what values should characterise leadership and co-workership in the organisation? Do disrespect, vulnerability and harassment exist in the culture, at the cost of quality in research and education? These are questions that have been asked in our work for a more inclusive culture. The results are now evident, thanks to committed co-workers and change leaders.

Greater awareness of gender inequality has helped bring about a more informed, action-oriented discussion. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been with me on this journey towards change. And thanks too to everyone who has read my posts.

Finally, I would like to add a reminder that we managed to change the name to Malvinas väg, inspired by the Malvina network for women engineers, which has existed at KTH for a long time. It may seem like an insignificant, symbolic thing to change the name from Osquldas väg – which unfortunately sounded like the Swedish for “Virgins Road” – to Malvinas väg, but it is strongly anchored in a serious societal problem, with cultures of honour that lead to everything from sexual harassment and student sexism to child marriage and hymenoplasty.

Everyone at KTH can be proud that this is no longer the name of our road. The work continues, and a plan for the coming three years is of course in place.