Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg about #Akademiuppropet: 'This Has to End!'
In the last couple of months, thousands of women representing various sectors have joined forces and protested against abuse and sexual harassment. Friday night, Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet published #Akademiuppropet. The 2 400 women who have signed the initiative demand that the rampant sexism in academia be taken seriously and eliminated.
‘I have read the testimonies in #Akademiuppropet with great dismay. This has to end,’ says Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg.
‘I hope the initiative will help convince the victims that the perpetrators, and not them, are to blame for what has happened, and that it will encourage them to report their experiences to their supervisors or the police. I would also like to make clear to everyone that we are ready to listen,’ says Pro-Vice-Chancellor Matthias Goksör, who is in charge of issues related to the work environment, gender equality and equal treatment at the University.
Eva Wiberg believes that the #MeToo and #Akademiuppropet campaigns, and the uncountable examples of sexual harassment, psychological violence and abuse of power that have surfaced, also are expressions of the structural gender inequality that continue to pervade society.
‘It is very clear to me that despite the many years of persistent gender equality work, we still have a long way to go. We need to have the courage to stand up against this once and for all. This is a great opportunity to take another leap in the struggle against gender inequality,’ says Wiberg.
Four sexual harassment complaints, two of which have concerned students, have been submitted since 2011. In the University’s work environment survey in 2015, 1.6 per cent of the respondents, corresponding to 58 staff members, claimed to have experienced sexual harassment in the past year. The true number is likely to be considerably higher. Partly because employees for various reasons choose not to report, but also because the official recording and handling of cases have changed. There might be cases that has not been submitted in the official recording diary.
Human Resources emphasizes the importance that reports or indications of sexual harassment are investigated as soon as it’s reported to the management. If management at a department or other unit is in need of support they can contact Human Resources.
Both Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Matthias Goksör feel that the University is well prepared to deal with a situation where more people may come forward and report violations and sexual harassment. At the Vice-Chancellor’s strategy meeting last week, the University’s deans and department heads were given a presentation covering everything from what harassment entails to how reports should be dealt with and what type of support is available.
Starting next week Human resources offers a course on how to conduct an investigation and how to support an employee that reports a sexual harassment. Investigation teams should consist of two persons, one woman and one man. It is important that investigations are carried out as closely to the concerned department as possible, that it doesn’t take too long to start investigations and that nobody ever serves as both investigator and decision-maker in a case.
The trade unions, the student union representatives and the occupational health services are also ready to provide support to anybody who is in need of it.