Gendered Healthcare Hierarchies, Ethics and Information Systems

Minna Salminen Karlsson did a very interesting seminar last week from the DISA research project. It was based on the doing gender perspective. The starting point was that we all behave in a spectrum with femininity and masculinity. In this way of looking nursing is coded as more feminine. And computer science is coded more as being masculine. These two communities also have two ways of looking at the world, and they are very different.

For example: Technical rationality dominates the computer science way of looking at the world, whereas nursing is more based on caring ethics. One difference in their world views is that technical rationality is bases on linear time view, whereas nursing care can be circular, parallel to other things and not always linear. Minna Salminen Karlsson also mention several other interesting differences.

Some assumptions that computer scientists often make when designing the system is hence:

  1.  “Expecting autonomous individuals with linear time”. However, nurses the nurses document at the end of the day and the system is not built for this. Nurses instead do many things in parallel.
  2.  “Obstructing a holistic view of patients = patients are a sum of their conditions.” The summary of the diagnoses is not useful for nurses, since it is built on the idea that all diagnoses are equally important and a part of the summary.

The abstract of her talk was the following:

The hierarchy of healthcare is gendered. This matters in the acquisition and implementation of information systems. The issues in and consequences of implementation of IS in healthcare can be better understood if they are seen as influenced by relationship between technology, as something that is mostly “done” by men (e.g. developers) and care, that is mostly “done” by women (e.g. nurses), in a (societal) context where technology is valued higher than care, and where the digitalization of healthcare is pushed forward by perceived economic imperatives. This is exemplified by analyses of the data collected for the DISA project (The effects of digitalization on nurses’ work environment), using theories of gender in organizations and the concept of ethic of care.

We are looking forward to hearing more about this interesting research!

Nomination of Lars Oestreicher to Uppsala University’s Equal Opportunities Award 2018

Lars Oestreicher was recently nominated to the Equal Opportunites 2018 award by the departments’ equal opportunities group. Congratulations! 

The nomination text : 

Lars Oestreicher works as a teacher and researcher in the field of Accessibility and Design for everyone in Human Computer Interaction. The Design for All area resides on a very clear equal opportunities basis, and contains both knowledge of people’s differences, as a value base that strongly emphasizes inclusion and the problem of stigmatization of people with disabilities in society as well as their vulnerability.

Lars Oestreicher has developed a pioneering course for students in the Design for All area, and has also written a new textbook on the subject as there is no suitable course literature to find to teach these questions. In the course of the course, Lars works very consciously to learn an inclusive mindset, where he, among other things, has moments where the students themselves can experience how to live with a disability.

Lars Oestreicher has also participated as a specialist in accessibility issues in a reference group for the development of the MegaMind exhibition at the Stockholm Technical Museum, and is conducting a VINNOVA-funded project together with Årsta specialist, which aims to allow children with severe cognitive and physical impairments to create music independently.

Lars Oestreicher is the university’s most competent researcher and teacher in this field, and his work and dedication goes far beyond what is expected of a teacher as he has an inclusive perspective in mind. Through his work, he has included equal opportunities issues as part of our education programs for students in computer science. We believe that this deserves to be noted and therefore wishes to nominate Lars to the University’s Equal Opportunities Award.

INTERACT 2017 in Mumbai – Part 2

As I wrote in the previous post, I recently had the opportunity to attend and present at INTERACT which took place in Mumbai, India. In this post, I write about two posters & demos. The Poster and demos sessions took place in every coffee / tea break during the whole conference, giving the attendees plenty of opportunitities to visit the individiual demo booths.


Supraja Sankaram presenting her HeartHab application

Supraja Sankaran (Hasselt University, Belgium) demonstrated a tool to personalize e-coaching based on individual patient risk factors, adherence rates and personal preferences of patients using a tele-rehabilitation solution. In their abstract, she and her co-authors Mieke Haesen, Paul Dendale, Kris Luyten and Karin Coninx describe, that they

developed the tool after conducting a workshop and multiple brainstorms with various caregivers involved in coaching cardiac patients to connect their perspectives with patient needs. It was integrated into a comprehensive tele-rehabilitation application.

Supraja was one of the participants in our EIT Health / ACM SIGCHI eHealth summer school (see here, or here), so it was really nice meeting her again at the conference. Supraja was born in India, and she went out of her way helping us Non-Indians, for instance explaining the food or local practices to me. It was really fun!

Mind the Gap

Another extremely interesting demo was the game “Mind the Gap – A Playful Take on Gender Imbalance in ICT” by Max Willis and Antonella De Angeli (University of Trento). I had met Antonella already on Monday during the field trip and she introduced me to Max (her PhD student) during lunch. Thus, we already talked briefly about the game and I couldn’t wait to play it. They outlined the aim on their poster:

Mind the Gap is a provocative, playful intervention and a research tool that illuminates players’ attitudes and experiences concerning gender privilege and discrimination in ICT. It initiates a structured social interaction around gender issues driven by role-play and participant authored texts.

The gameboard charts a typical technology carreer path. Female Player Characters (PC’s) roll a 4-sided die, male PC’s roll a 6-sided die. Players advance and draw a ‘privilege’ card describing a scenario which is scored to reflect a penalty or an advanage according to the gender of the PC.

During the game, players an author their own privilege cards, add decisions, or create new rules and add them to the game.

Playing this game was really fascinating, but also reading the cards authored by previous players. It didn’t take long for me to pick the card which you see in the picture below: “Congrats! You will have a baby!” As my character was female like me (the character is drawn at the beginning of the game), I had to leave the career path and go on the family path.

“Mind the Gap”  by Max Willis and Antonella De Angeli

Later I drew the card “Change gender to female, if you are men”. Too bad – I might have wanted my character to change to male in that case 🙂 The game drew a lot of attention and it was really interesting. I am really looking forward to reading more about their findings in the future. For more information, visit their project website.

At the end of the conference, the organisers showed us the following clip they put together, which I think is really nice:

Recommended Course for Master Students, Doctoral Students and Postdoctoral Reserachers


In April next year the NordWit Centre for Excellence will organize a course for master students, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in the area of gender work and transforming organisations. Several of the HTO people are going to this course, and we are also a part of the centre.

The course has a strong focus on participants’ own experiences and we are invited to bring our own studies into discussions.

 We think this sounds like a brilliant and very interesting course! So join us in Tambere on the 18th -20th of April 2018.

For more info see: