I’m often asked by fellow PhD students–what should I have on the cover of my dissertation (avhandling) book?
To me, the answer was very clear–I wanted the overall message, the theme, of my dissertation to be front and center on the cover.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I should shorten my dissertation 😉
Here’s the significance of my cover art:
Since my dissertation is about how fathers are not provided with an equal chance to parent, both through the Swedish family policies and through the institutions, like the child health field, I had this represented on the cover.
There’s an illustration of Sweden in the background, with a father, presumably from Uppsala University, holding his daughter’s hand as he walks towards a nurse and a preschool teacher.
The nurse and preschool teacher are both women, signifying the gender difference men/fathers face at the outset of garnering parenting advice from these individuals.
However, he is stopped at a fence, with a lock, signifying the gatekeeping that is happening as those who have knowledge about young children’s health hold the keys (and therefore the power) to inform or not inform others about young children’s health.
In this case, fathers feel like the gate is closed, and that they have several barriers to break down before they can be fully accepted into the child health world.
Even my own institution highlights the lack of the importance of fathers, as it is aptly named “Women’s and Children’s Health“.
Mainly people in Sweden and around the world believe that Sweden is a very gender equal country. And to its credit, it most certainly is, especially relative to other countries. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a vast amount of work still needed before achieving gender equality. While many people work with the struggle for equal rights for women, few pose the argument on ways men/fathers are discriminated against, not the least of which is through the Swedish child health field.
With that in mind, the sign on the gatekeeping fence has a sign saying “Nullius in Verba” which is Latin for “take nobody’s word for it”. In other words, just because people believe Sweden is a gender equal country, and that men/fathers hold all of the power–do not take societies word for it.
Seek out the truth…..by reading my dissertation.
You can find a copy of my dissertation by clicking here.
One last thing–I gave a tip of my hat to the father-figures in my life: my father (JSW), my two grandfathers (KFE & CRW), and my best childhood friends dad (SP) by having their initials “carved” into the fence on the right-hand side. This was also intended as a symbolic gesture, suggesting that these fathers had reached the gate, but were stopped and couldn’t be as involved in all aspects of childrearing as they might have liked due to the various levels of gatekeeping that they encountered.