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New survey will increase knowledge about conditions and career paths for gender researchers

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In Sweden, the field of gender studies has grown over the past 20 years. Today, there is postgraduate education in the field at several of the country's higher education institutions and about 60 doctoral students have so far defended their doctoral theses on the subject. But what do the career paths look like for gender researchers? A new survey will provide answers to this.

The field of gender studies is growing, but it’s still relatively new in Sweden, the gender studies environments are relatively small and there are few permanent positions. All in all, this means that the prospects of a researcher who has recently successfully defended their doctoral thesis in Gender Studies may seem uncertain.

The Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research is now conducting a study on career paths for those who have defended their doctoral thesis in gender studies and for subject-integrated gender researchers, both within and outside academia. The latter group refers to researchers who have a gender perspective on their research but who have a PhD in another subject.

The first part of the study consists of a questionnaire survey carried out in the autumn of 2021. The survey is conducted through two separate questionnaires, where one is designed for those with a PhD in Gender Studies and the other for subject-integrated gender researchers. The questionnaires will provide answers to questions about, among other things, employment rate, access to post-doctoral positions and research funding. Within the framework of the study, a second, qualitative part is also planned. It will examine how representatives of the gender research field have experienced the institutionalisation of Gender Studies and the opportunities for career progression within the wider field of gender research.
 

Knowledge as a basis for the right measures

A previous alumni survey, Genusvetarnas framtid (The Future of Gender Studies students), shed light on the situation of former gender studies students in the labour market. The results showed that the former students are engaged in a wide range of professions and many stated that they had benefited from their gender studies education.

These were students who had engaged in gender studies at the undergraduate and master’s level, while the current study focuses on career paths for those who have a PhD in Gender Studies. The survey is conducted by the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research in collaboration with representatives of the Swedish Gender Research Association (SGF), the Subject Association for Gender Studies (ÄG) and Kilden, the Norwegian Knowledge Center for Gender and Gender Research.

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Anna Olovsdotter Lööv. Photo: Lisa Sjösten
Anna Olovsdotter Lööv
Photo: Lisa Sjösten

One of the researchers who initiated the study is Anna OlovsdotterLööv, PhD in Gender Studies and senior lecturer at Mid Sweden University. She believes that there are knowledge gaps to fill in the area.

 The reason why the Swedish Gender Researchers' Association's doctoral student and postdoctoral network initiated this study was that we lacked a knowledge base to be able to have discussions about what the situation looks like for PhDs in Gender Studies and what targeted measures are needed.
 

Target groups for the study

Hopefully the new study will be able to provide the knowledge base that has been lacking so far, but it requires that many respond to the survey.

-I would like to urge all gender researchers to take theopportunity and contribute to an increased knowledge of our situation inside and outside the academia, so that the Swedish Gender Research Association and other stakeholders have a knowledge base to start from in the continued work to draw attention to gender researchers' working conditions, Lööv concludes.

For those who are planning, completing, or have just completed a PhD in Gender Studies or who have written a thesis with a gender perspective, mapping the career paths of people who have achieved their doctorate can help provide information that is important for career planning.

Other important addressees for the study are research funders, who need a greater understanding of the funding situation in the field of gender research, and those involved in research policy, i.e. agencies and authorities, politicians and trade unions.