#MeToo and the calls from various professions, including within the academia, has gotten a lot of attention nationwide and internationally. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

"Zero tolerance against all forms of harassment"

Published: 28 November 2017

The #MeToo campaign and the testimonies in #Akademiuppropet have put the light on sexual harassment in society at large and also within the university world. "It is very important to stress that we have zero tolerance for all forms of harassment", says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, pro vice-chancellor at Luleå University of Technology.

The call #Akademiuppropet is signed by 2,400 women who work within the academia. In a debate article in Svenska Dagbladet, they describe examples of sexual abuse, abuse of power, and psychological violence at their workplaces.

Luleå University of Technology has a responsibility towards students and employees to prevent sexual harassment and to investigate them if they occur.

– We have no signs of harassment being a problem, but Luleå University of Technology is a big workplace and we are not naive and think it can not occur. We therefore urge anyone who has something to report to do it, says pro vice-chancellor Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn.

"Must act immediately"

The University's director of human resources Tommy Viklund believes the massive impact of #MeToo can lead to a change in society.

– With the issue being at top of the agenda, the silence culture is broken. Persons in leading positions who is reached by information about sexual harassment must act immediately and vigorously, he says, pointing to the importance of good leadership and preventive work.

At Luleå University of Technology, the preventive work is taking place in a number of areas:

  • Temporary and scholarship-funded employment can be risk factors in this context. Luleå University of Technology has therefore chosen to have a high proportion of permanent employees and doctoral positions instead of scholarships.
    – It is well known that if there is a dependence, the risk of harassment increases, says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn.
  • There are clear guidelines for how managers should act if employees or students are subjected to sexual harassment.
  • Since the 1980s, the university has been working strategically to increase gender equality and to ensure an evener gender distribution among professors, doctoral students and among students in different education programs.

– We have also integrated gender mainstreaming into a large part of our operative work, including the recruitment process, and we work strategically and systematically to ensure that the university is an equal and safe workplace for all students and employees, says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn.