President Astrid Söderbergh Widding at the career seminar SU Photo: Young Academy of Sweden
Stockholm University and Young Academy of Sweden arranged the seminar “How to succeed as a researcher at SU” on 3 February. President Astrid Söderbergh Widding and Deans of the four faculties participated, shared their experiences and discussed career paths. Young academy members at SU offered advice and examples of career questions they try to promote through the academy platform.
1. Aryo Makko opens the seminar. 2. Frida Bender shares career advice and encourages women researchers. 3. Audience and speakers. Photo: Young Academy of Sweden
Academy member Aryo Makko, a historian at SU specializing in the cold war era, introduced the seminar and presented the young academy’s work with promoting career questions. Makko expressed concern that preliminary results from the poll about implementation of the form of employment associate senior lecturer (BUL/biträdande universiteteslektor) at Swedish universities hints that internal hiring is disproportionately promoted.
1. YAS member Ewa Machotka. 2. The Deans' panel, from the left: Henrik Cederquist, Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre, Jessika van der Sluijs and Astri Muren, moderator Anna Wetterbom, CEO YAS (right). 3. YAS members in the audience from outwards towards the center: Jonas Olofsson, Sara Strandberg (alumni), Ewa Machotka and Frida Bender, front row: Leo and Aryo Makko. Photo: Young Academy of Sweden
YAS members Frida Bender (Meteorology), Ewa Machotka (Japanese Art and Visual Culture), Jonas Olofsson (Psychology), and alumni Sara Strandberg (Subatomic Particle Physics) took the floor a couple of minutes each and shared their career advice and the questions they promote together through the young academy’s platform. Frida Bender has managed to go abroad several times with her family with 3 children: It is doable! to both have a family and invest in your reseach career, she encouraged. Ewa Machotka has an international background and admitted that internationalization and mobility are also quite challenging. What is promoted? There are sometimes intersectionality dilemmas working against certain profiles. Jonas Olofsson underlined that academic leadership must be acknowledged, being responsible for PhD students and transferring skills other than research methods. Alumni Sara Strandberg highlighted the benefits of building networks, making new research aquaintances, and to apply for positions at other environments. Anna Wetterbom, CEO of the young academy, moderated the seminar, she pointed out that Sweden's academic career system is quite obscure in comparison to many other countries', e.g. the US. She emphasized that a transparent and quality-driven career system for researchers is crucial for Sweden as a prominent research nation. The young academy has worked several years to promote research positions such as associate senior lecturer (BUL) as a first step in a unified career system. In 2017, the Higher Education Ordinance was amended and BUL was added to its current form. This means that from April 1, 2018, everyone who is employed as BUL has the right to be evalutated for promotion to Lecturer.
President Astrid Söderbergh Widding shared her career path, jokingly warning young researchers for administrative positions that may be steering away from research: “Look what happened to me!”. She emphasized that there must be enough time allocated for research for younger researchers. Söderbergh Widding also quoted her installation speech as President at Stockholm University, pointing out she had already then taken interest in the young academy’s proposal for more transparent career paths with demands for excellence and a right to be evaluated for a possible promotion. She pointed out that it is important that the same conditions prevail in all faculties.
– I believe recruitment processes should be open and international. Regarding transparency, there is potential to increase it even more in the processes.
At the same time, she warned that the criteria that were set up should not be reduced to checklists to be ticked off.
– After all, it is a quality process and if it is not the highest quality criteria, it becomes problematic.
1. Astrid Söderbergh Widding Photo: Roland Fredriksson/Stockholm Univeristy 2. Coffee and bulle mingle 3. Mingle Photo: Young Academy of Sweden
The deans for all faculties at SU: Human Science, Faculty of Law, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, presented the recruitment processes at their respective area. Regarding internal recruitment they problematized that it is also not surprising that researchers living in the area would be more likely to apply for positions there. Astri Muren, Dean at the Faculty for Social Sciences, expressed a wish for room to employ more associate senior lecturers, BUL:s. These are decided at the department level. According to Muren both a more transparent recruitment process, and more structure are needed. Recruiting teachers are often difficult now. Jessika van der Sluijs, Dean at the Faculty of Law, explained that this research area is quite different, as many researchers hold positions as lawyers, legal advisers or judges etc. parallel to their research career. Law is also very heavy in teaching, compared to other faculties, and this mirrors recruitment accordingly. Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre, Dean at the Faculty of Humanities, encouraged researchers to consider administrative positions, it is importamt and it is possible to also pursue a research career, she encouraged. Henrik Cederquist, Dean at the Faculty of Science, shared the rigorous and impressive recruitment process applied there, with about 10 external reviewers, interviews etc. He underscored the overall aim to build strong research environments that in turn will attract more talented researchers.
1. Sara Strandberg and Frida Bender. 2. Dean Jessika van der Sluijs (left). 3. Dean Henrik Cederquist (left), Ewa Machotka and Jonas Olofsson. Photo: Young Academy of Sweden