Audio description: Picture of Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, in front of trees and Chalmers buildings.
​Pernilla Wittung Stafshede is leading the Genie project.​
​Photo​: Oscar Mattsson.​

The gender equality project Genie is launched

​Within ten years, Chalmers hope to increase the proportion of women at the professor level from 17 percent to 40 percent and remove structural and cultural obstacles that hamper career progression of women. During January the Chalmers Foundation Initiative Genie, Gender Initiative for Excellence, begins its work.
With a budget of 300 million kronor, Chalmers will create a more equal gender balance and a better working environment, for everyone. The project launched on 1 January 2019 and runs through 2028.

Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, who is a professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, is one of the initiators of the project and is also leading the project.

What initiatives have you planned for the spring?

– During the next two months, we will meet with all thirteen heads of department at Chalmers to discuss their situation and what plans and ideas they have around gender equality. Thereafter, we will also meet with the faculty and perhaps other groupings in the departments. The aim is to produce tailor-made recommendations for each department. Different departments will have different needs; there are good examples at Chalmers too. We will return to the departments regularly to check on progress and give further guidance. 

– Later this spring, we will also announce a call for Genie funding for internal projects that aim to contribute in creating a more gender-balanced environment. In addition, we will also set up several campus wide efforts, such as seminars on gender issues with expert speakers and regular Genie pub evenings for informal discussions. We are also planning for an international visiting researcher programme.

What are your expectations for the project?

 – It is very exciting; the first focus is to make sure everything is up and running. An important point about Genie is that it is led by faculty. We work in the environment where we want to make improvements which helps us to understand the problems and be concrete about solutions. Chalmers has been working on gender equality for a long time, but with Genie we want to speed up the process by raising the priority of work with gender equality in every department to the leadership group. We also have money to invest where appropriate.

When do you think we will be able to see a change?

  When it comes to what is measurable, such as the number of women in the faculty and responses on gender equality in the employee survey, I think we will be able to see an effect already next year, 2020. There is a general positive expectation at Chalmers, I think. We have already invested Genie money in the Area of Advance assistant professorship call since it contained so many top-ranked female candidates. But long-term changes in numbers, system and culture will take time, so I think we can expect that real, significant changes will take several years. Sustainable work on gender equality takes time so we must be patient, but it will be worth it because Genie will have a great positive impact on the future success of Chalmers.



Text: Sophia Kristensson
​​

Published: Mon 14 Jan 2019.