Every month, for you, EPWS presents the characteristics and activities of one member association.
Our member for June is the Finnish association Helsinki Association of Women Researchers.
For the Helsinki Association of Women Researchers (HAWR), chair of the association Päivi Salmesvuori has accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.
Contact this association: firstname.lastname@example.org (chair) or email@example.com (vice chair)
Contact this member: firstname.lastname@example.org
Association website: http://blogs.helsinki.fi/tutkijanaiset/the-helsinki-association-of-women-researchers/
EPWS: If you wanted to describe your association in one sentence, what would you say?
P. S.: Our association works in an interdisciplinary and inter-university way, we bring together people from the Helsinki area who are devoted to promote gender equality in study, research and in society.
EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?
P. S. : We have eight main objectives:
1) raising public discussion regarding issues of gender equality in science
2) improving the position of women researchers in academia
3) improving the social and economic well-being of women researchers
4) promoting mutual collaboration between women researchers
5) promoting equality in university and research
6) promoting especially the visibility and importance of women researchers’ areas of expertise and research foci
7) promoting critical gender research
8) critically evaluating the gender effects/impacts of science policy.
EPWS: what is the history of Helsinki Association of Women Researchers, in a few words?
P. S. : The HAWR was established in 1982, to promote many of the above mentioned issues and it had several hundreds of members. However, in the 1990’s the activity of the association went down . Thus was gender equality in Academia achieved? In 2006 female researchers raised that question and realized that it was not the case. Actually, all the old problems remained and some new ways of discrimination had appeared. Since 2006 the HAWR has again been actively promoting its objectives.
EPWS: Could you explain the organization of your association?
P. S.: We have a very light administrative structure, a new board (nine members and six deputies) is elected every year. It in turn elects the chair and vice-chair. The board communicates a lot via email and all members may raise topics to talk about. This makes it possible to react quite quickly to acute issues. Of course we also plan longer ahead and for example arrange talks and workshops to which we invite key persons from the university and political fields. Recently we have discussed for example about internationalization and women’s leadership. Very often after our formal meetings we remain chatting and sharing for example our experiences as mothers and scholars. One of the best things in our association is that it brings together scholars from different fields and universities, we learn from each other and we constantly encourage each other to persevere.
EPWS: What are its recent achievements?
P. S. : We have actively commented on universities’ gender equality agendas and we feel that our voice has been heard. Very recently, in April 2016, the former chair of HAWR, professor Hanna Vehkamäki and I were in Tallinn, Estonia, in a seminar called “Glass Ceiling or Career Ladder? – Young People in Academia“. It was arranged by the Finnish Embassy and the Office of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner (Tallinn). In our talks we concentrated on practical solutions on how to improve women scholars’ career in Academia. I think that sharing experiences and finding the best practices was very fruitful and empowering for all parties.
EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?
P. S.: The Finnish Government has cut university funding dramatically for this year and the coming ones. This extremely unfortunate choice of the Finnish decision-makers has led to hundreds of people getting sacked from the universities. At the same time many universities seek to (and they have to) reform their organization. The HAWR is now carefully following the gender impact of these actions and tries to be more pro-active than reactive. In this depressing situation we find it also very important to raise the spirit of our members, share ideas and encourage each other to see the positive things that are also happening. That is also why we decided to actively share success-stories of our members on our website. After having worked hard, we wanted to show that good things happen also.
EPWS: Are you collaborating with other EPWS members?
P. S. : The most important collaboration happens through the international conference of the EPWS, to which we seek to send our representative. We are naturally very keen on collaborating with other associations when possible.
EPWS: What do you expect from EPWS? In what ways can it help you develop your action?
P. S.: The international conference is of course a hugely effective way to keep track on what is taking place in Europe and globally. We are also grateful for ideas on how to better influence the policy-makers.
Favourite LINKS (all texts are in English)
Congrats, you have an all male panel -website, created by a Finnish feminist, PhD Saara Särmä:
women + computational science = perfect equation : https://www.csc.fi/web/taydellinenyhtalo/etusivu
Articles about equality in diverse papers:
Finnish Association of Feminist Philosophers: