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Women scientists in Gender-Specific Technological R&D - How do women scientists in technological R&D respond to the needs of women end-users?

Final Report Summary - WOSISTER (Women Scientists in Gender-Specific Technological R&D - How do women scientists in technological R&D respond to the needs of women end-users?)

The general objective of the project was to clarify the process of how women scientists engaged in technological R&D respond to the needs of women end-users. The project compares and analyses gender equality in R&D in the cases of two distinctively different technologies - teleservices and agricultural implements for rural application - in two transition economies - Poland and China.

The focus was on the demand for gender-specific R&D and on the possibilities of women scientists to interact with women end-users. How has women's role in science changed in the transition process? How do the economic and socio-cultural factors influence gender-specific end-user analysis for rural technologies and teleservices? What are the differences between the roles of women scientists in the two technologies in China and their peers in Poland? What policy implications can be drawn from the case studies?

Specific objectives

The first objective of the study was to determine the current proportion and resources of women scientists in gender-specific studies in technological R&D (agricultural implements and teleservices in Poland and the Chinese province of Shaanxi). The charting demonstrates possible amplitude of gender inequality in scientific research and lays the basis for the following research work.

The second objective was to make an empirical analysis of the position of women scientists in R&D in the selected technologies. Based on the previous research, questionnaires and interviews, the aim was to analyse explicit as well as implicit cultural and structural factors that have an impact on gender-specific studies in technological R&D: women scientists in decision making, their status, career opportunities, policy recommendations, patriarchal nature of culture, gerontocratic politics, and disparities in different technologies. The analysis was to display visible and hidden processes behind the scientific structures, which hamper gender equality in research in general.

The third objective was to formulate recommendations for better adaptation of gender-specific studies in technological R&D: recommendations for policies and programmes; increased equality between genders in scientific research; gender-specific end-user analysis for gender-sensitive applications; utilisation of social capital of women in gender-specific research etc. In the study the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) as well as two provinces in China (Shanxi and Hebei) served as a reference and the results from Poland and Shaanxi were analysed in the light of the development in these countries. The recommendations will provide decision makers with a basis for evaluating gender equality in technological research and for including the gender issue as a focal point in their strategies.

The results of the project are as follows:
1) Eight research reports were completed and published to the project website.
2) Survey of technology end-users
During winter, the survey aimed at end-users of technology has been executed. In Sweden, a mailed questionnaire was sent out to 1 000 end-users of telecom services and agricultural implements. The response rate was respectable at over 50 %. In Poland and China, the teams prepared the inquiry based on interviews with technology end-users. The results of the three surveys were presented at the Polish workshop in May 2008.
3) Syntheses
During the year, two papers were prepared, synthesising the results from the interviews with women researchers and technology end-users in the three countries. The papers were presented at the final conference in Lund. The first part of synthesising analysis was finished in April and was used for the preparation of a presentation of the synthesising results presented at workshop 3 in Warsaw. The second part of this work was performed in September - both parts of the research (on researchers and technology users) were combined in order to produce common conclusions.
4) Book manuscript
A book manuscript, based on all project papers and synthesis, is under preparation.
5) Workshop
In Spring 2008, a workshop in Warsaw, Poland was organised by IPSO. At the workshop, the research results from interviews with users of agricultural and IT technology were presented and discussed and the final phase of the project fine-tuned. The workshop was attended by Polish, Swedish and Chinese researchers and policy makers which allowed for a dialogue on policy relevance.
6) Conference
The final conference was convened outside Lund, Sweden. At the conference, leading researchers as well representatives from industry, NGOs and governmental organisations participated. 11 papers produced by the WOSISTER researchers were presented and discussed together with invited presenters from academia and the business community.%7) Dissemination
Information on the rationale behind and on the specifics of the projects has continuously been disseminated to stakeholders, not least to those R&D leaders contacted in connection with interviews and questionnaires as well as participants at the project workshops and final conference During the course of the project, the project members have actively promoted the project and presented research results at conferences and seminars. In addition, information on the project as well as on the conference in Lund has been disseminated to interested parties which in turn have promoted the project on their websites.
8) Website
A public website providing information on background, project details, press releases and progress reporting has been set up at http://www.fpi.lu.se/en/research/wosister.

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