Survey on sexual harassment in universities

The Helsinki Association of Women Researchers has made a survey on sexual harassment in universities. Quoting them:

“The conversation concerning sexual harassment affect also practices and working environments in universities. However, not much information is available about the present situation. This is why the Helsinki Association of Women Researchers decided to make an inquiry. We ask you to tell us about your experiences of sexual harassment in academia.

The #MeToo campaign has sparked debate and increased awareness of sexual harassment and the forms it can take. At the same time, concern has been expressed about how a member of the university community can, perhaps unintended or by mistake, behave in a way that can be experienced or interpreted as sexual harassment. Even if sexual harassment has been defined in legislation, many are unaware of what constitutes harassment. This is why we would like to ask your thoughts on and experiences of sexual harassment, your views on the definition of harassment and your thoughts on what special features of the academic context should be taken into account.

You may report your experiences anonymously; the answers cannot be connected to you. The answers will be used by the board of the Helsinki Association of Women Researchers in order to combat sexual harassment. The recommended research ethics guidelines will be followed.

The results of the inquiry will be used as background information for the Minna Canth event for Equality, on 19th March, held at the University of Helsinki. The aim is to continue the discussion and to find out what should and could be done in academia.

If you consent (tick the last box in the query), your answers may be used for research purposes.The guidelines prepared by the National Advisory Board on Research Ethics will be complied with.”

The inquiry can be found here.

Please answer at the latest 12th March.

Information about the Helsinki Association of Women Researchers:

Podcast media!

HYVÄT aims to share information and discuss issues related to doctoral studies at University of Helsinki through podcasts. Up to now, we have broadcasted three podcasts with these topics: getting to know HYVÄT, academic writing and academic publishing. HYVÄT is looking for members who are willing to contribute in preparing them. The contributions can be of many kinds. You can send ideas on what you would like to listen to, participate in the making of the podcast itself (the interviews, panels or editing), or just make suggestions of how we can improve the podcasts. Please contact our board member Oulia Makkonen ( if you are interested.

Mental Wellbeing support group for University of Helsinki Students (MeWe)

We all know doing a PhD is tough. As a doctoral student, we might face anxiety, stress and depression that need support. MeWe is a group created by a doctoral student in 2015 that aims to provide an opportunity for doctoral students of University of Helsinki to meet weekly and monthly and share their struggles and problems. It started out as a Facebook group with over 200 members.

MeWe needs someone or a group of people who are interested in managing the meetings. No counseling or leadership skills needed. If you want to help please contact our board member Giovanni Canarecci (

Here the founder explains more about MeWe.





Introductory seminar for the newly elected PhD representatives : A summary of panel discussion

HYVÄT’s first effort to introduce representatives responsibilities and rights successfully took place on Wednesday 16th January in New Student House.

After an introduction about HYVÄT by Anton Saressalo the program continued with a presentation about university administration and the rights of representatives by Harri Waltari.

Anton’s presentation
Harri’s presentation

The seminar also included a panel discussion in which Mariella Aalto-Araneda, Abdelhakim Salem, Harri Mäcklin and Giovanni Canarecci shared their experiences as previous representatives. At the end, about 50 new representatives had the chance to have more free discussions in small groups based on their doctoral schools.

Please find bellow a summary of questions and answers discussed during the panel:

1.How was the workload? Too much? If yes, what could be done to adjust it?

The workload is higher the first year. It is not spread evenly throughout the year: most work has to be done when selecting new PhD students and reviewing applications for salaried positions or when organizing events for the doctoral school.

2. Did the board use English or Finnish? Was language an issue in any way?

From the experience of our panelists, the boards switches from Finnish to English when a non-Finnish speaker joins. Official documents are often still in Finnish, but usually a translation or summary in English is provided by someone on the board. If applications from doctoral students can be send in English and Finnish, this can make it complicated to review them.

3.What was it like to be on the board? Did you collaborate well with the other board members?

In some schools and programmes the atmosphere is friendly and informal. Not a lot of voting is done and most decisions are made unanimously through compromises. On some boards there is a feeling of distance between the student representatives and professors. Professors might be hesitant to organise something extra, like a symposium, until they find out no extra work is required

4.On role of doctoral schools in paid positions

The school has a certain amount of paid positions, which are distributed to the programmes. The way these positions are distributed is done differently in every school. On the doctoral school level, you try to unify between different programmes, such that there are equal opportunities despite the programme.

5.Have you been in contact with the school and programme representatives in your school? How do you keep contact with the other doctoral students?

Some programmes/schools have a Facebook page to keep contact with the students. It is important that your fellow students know that you are their representative, so that they can come to you with possible issues.

6.On issues with supervision

The go to person for problems on supervision is the coordinator of the doctoral programme. Other people are the head of the programme or the head of the department. If the head of the department is the supervisor in question, then the head of the doctoral school is an option.

Statement on the need of disciplinary web pages

In order to keep you informed on what we are up to, we have one more thing in the field of advocacy to announce before the summer:

Because many disciplines have had their web pages shut down as a sudden and unwanted side effect of the many renewal processes at the university, the board decided to take action and write a statement where we call for immediate attention on this issue.

At present, only pages that provide information about bachelor, master, and doctoral programmes have been created, but through them it is impossible to get a clear picture of the research projects, supervisors etc. of the separate disciplines. From the PhD community’s perspective, this matter is urgent because it impacts both our current and future work and career for the following reasons:

  1. Jeopardizes the future intake of Master and PhD students:

From our experience most PhD students who have started their PhD studies at the University have found disciplinary websites the main source of information, not only about their supervisors, but also about other researchers, students and their research topics. Having an idea about the intellectual environment here can be defining for people when they make the choice of applying to the university. Lack of this information may lead to possible applicants to turn to other universities instead.

  1. Hinders the connections between research communities:

In the absence of an online presence, PhD communities no longer share a virtual space where to look up and connect to others who may have relevant experience with one’s area of research, funding, or other matters. Furthermore, as many collaborations arise from web browsing, not having such web sources make whole research communities and researchers they are made up of, invisible. This has a degrading effect on research communities and the research environment overall, and if this situation continues, it is likely that the University will fail to attract new expertise.

  1. Diminishing opportunities for public engagement:

The lack of open disciplinary websites diminishes opportunities for communicating research to the society and the wider public. Journalists, media and other experts are likely to find these web resources necessary, providing information about contact information and the more specific on-going things at the University.

  1. Impairs the visibility and reputation of the University of Helsinki:

Most other internationally recognized universities have disciplinary pages, usually recognized as departments; not having such visibility will damage the reputation of the University of Helsinki.

  1. Wasting valuable research time:

Currently, necessary information for PhD students is spread all across the web. Finding out about even simple practical matters requires extensive amounts of time, and can involve the laborious and frustrating experience of being referred from one staff member to another. This is time that could and should be spent on research.