Woman in foreign academia: Women scholars from Central and Eastern Europe problematizing gender equality in Swedish universities

Marion Pajumets, Triin Roosalu

Women are under-represented in science, technology and engineering research both in Central and Eastern Europe and Nordic countries. Differently from post socialist countries, however, Swedish academia uses different interventions to improve the position of women scientists. Thus, women scientists from Central and Eastern Europe who work in Swedish academia should value the gender equality policies of Swedish universities highly. But do they?

The article aims to identify the attitudes of women scientists who have been consecutively socialized into different gender orders (socialist, post socialist, neoliberal, Nordic) about the gender equality policies of an academia that most explicitly strives to achieve gender balance.

The analysis is based on biographical interviews with 13 mobile women scientists who worked in 8 Swedish universities in the fall of 2014. Their attitudes are determined with the help of critical framing theory and existing typologies that distinguish political frameworks of gender equality in different European countries.

The analysis identifies three dominant attitudes towards the gender equality policies of Swedish academia. The first believes them to be positive but rather passive (so-called transformative framing); the second considered the interventions of the Swedish academia active, but somewhat detrimental (so-called inclusive framing); some women believed the existing interventions in the context of gender equality weak, but also somewhat unnecessary (so-called denial framing). The discussion section considers what influence the specific multiple socialization and gratitude may have on the evaluations of Swedish academia given by women scientists from Central and Eastern Europe.