Tieteentekijöiden liitto 50 vuotta


Tutkitun tiedon puolesta.

Tieteentekijöiden liitto on puolustanut tutkitun tiedon tuottajia, tieteentekijöitä 50 vuoden ajan. Merkkipaalun kunniaksi esittelemme vuoden aikana 50 tieteentekijää ja heidän näkemyksiään siitä, miksi tutkitun tiedon puolesta tulee toimia juuri tässä ajassa.

Kannamme huolta ja vastuuta tieteen ja tutkitun tiedon asemasta yhteiskunnassa. Tämä on tärkeää juuri nyt. Meillä on tietoa enemmän kuin koskaan aikaisemmin, mutta sen yltäminen päätöksenteon perusteeksi meitä kaikkia koskettavissa asioissa saisi toteutua nykyistä paremmin.

Esittelyssä tieteentekijä

Heidi Henrickson

We need to get more girls excited about technology

Heidi Henrickson stresses the importance of inspiring more girls to study technology in order to close the gender gap in the field. She works as an academic coordinator in the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Computational Nanoscience COMP at Aalto University in Otaniemi.

As the coordinator of approximately 90 people in 11 different research groups Henrickson acts as a sort of research whisperer between academic researchers, academic support staff, funders and publishers.

–          I act as a hub for the information that researchers need when they are applying for funding.

–          Scientists may also need help in explaining the results of their research for the administration as well as for those who are funding the research. I speak both languages, that of the administration and that of scientists.

Finland’s excellent conditions, just the super computer centre alone, have brought young international researchers to Aalto University. This means that in the Physics Department approximately 45 percent of people are non-Finns. The working language is English.

In addition to over 30 different nationalities, Henrickson’s centre consists of a wide range of different personalities. She states that the best part of this work are the inspiring colleagues.

–          What motivates you when you come to work in the morning? My people. I have such a diverse group of people working with me.

In Science, communication is everything

Henrickson is an experienced editor and her specialty is language. One of her tasks is to streamline the language of grant applications and reports as well as international high impact factor papers so that the research output is more visible on an international scale.

In science, communication is everything.

–          Scientific communication is needed in everything, presenting your findings, having social impact and making the field grow. Within your community you need to be able to share your research results in an efficient way that allows others to check the work or duplicate it.

–          For a hyper specialized researcher, explaining your research findings to people outside your immediate research group is a huge challenge.

Henrickson helps researchers to clear their message and communicate more effectively.

–          In the US, we are trained to communicate from childhood. From the age of five we do public presentations. You put an American in front of the public and they can talk about themselves for hours.

In international conferences, researchers need to be as confident in talking as they are in doing research.

In communicating science, the audience always matters. Attracting the interest of the general public and speaking more generally about the research is another challenge.

–          Universities need media to show the public what they are doing.

Women in top leadership positions need to became a norm

Henrickson’s academic background is in social sciences. Having a degree in women’s studies has made her aware of the different ways that gender is expressed in the working environment.

–          I am able to see certain patterns of behavior that my colleagues may not recognize and help all our researchers feel at home in our department, regardless of gender.

Northern Europe is traditionally known for doing well with gender equality compared to the other countries of the world.

–          Quality of life for women coming here is very good. As a woman, you can have the confidence to walk down the street, to go to work, to go out with your friends, and there will be women everywhere. In terms of that, you can’t beat that sort of social environment.

However, just as it is in other countries, women are underrepresented in top leadership positions, especially in the field of technology. Women make it to a certain level of leadership, but then the highest levels are often closed.

–          The head of the centre, Academy Professor Päivi Törmä is the only female professor in the department, so in a way it makes perfect sense for me having studied women’s studies to work with someone who is an exception within a field.

To beat the gender gap, Henrickson stresses that we need more than just individual role models. Having more women occupying the top leadership positions as professors and group leaders has to become the norm.

–          We need to start seeing it as just a normal way of running a research organization. See that there is nothing weird or exceptional about a female professor. That is going to attract other women, PhD students, group leaders and then professors.

To have the women leaders, we need to make girls see that they too can pursue an academic career in technology.

Written by: Nuppu Pelevina
Photos: Milla Talassalo

In this campaign the Union wants to emphasize the importance of fact-based research. How are you promoting fact-based research in your work?

“My researchers would tell you that they only deal with facts. However, in the process of scientifically communicating, you need to identify exactly what it is that you want to communicate. You need to focus your message in such a way that you can support it with facts. Instead of overwhelming people with facts and allowing them to draw their own conclusions, we need to interpret the data and state clearly what we mean. So, I help our researchers clear their message and make their research understandable to the outside world.”