Why did you take part in the initiative Sexism in Danish Higher Education and Research in October 2020?
I have been researching gender, in/equality and work life my entire academic life, so it has always been clear to me that sexism exists, and that Academia is no exception. I was surprised and saddened by the limited effect of #Metoo in Denmark in 2017. Sexism prevailed and was still very much present in our work lives; leaders and management everywhere still seemed ignorant or willfully unaware. When I saw the brave women in media standing up and speaking out in solidarity with Sofie Linde, I knew that we should do the same in Academia. A system that does not provide the same security and opportunity for all colleagues, and yet demands our silence and compliance. I wanted to change these working conditions in Danish universities. They have made work life unhealthy for so many of us for too long. I knew that we would have to do this collectively.
What has been important to you before and after the publication of the signatures and the submission of the testimonies?
I was sure that we needed to guarantee anonymity to contributors to make people come together and speak out about sexism. And it was clear that we should also insist on anonymity of perpetrators, to make the initiative about structural inequality and toxic work culture. We have been able to do so all along in the initiative. By doing so, the sheer number of testimonies about experiences with sexist behavior in Academia has exposed sexism as a structural problem.
To receive and read so many testimonies from so many colleagues filled me with both anger and grief. But the greatest shock was to receive emails form colleagues saying that they wanted to participate, but that they did not dare. To know that still today, we have colleagues working in conditions this toxic and threatening is unbearable. No single person should face this alone.
We have made it clear that it is still an enormous task to change Academia.