Too Many PhD Positions: Uppsala, Sweden

There are a lot of articles out there on the absurdity regarding the number of PhD students universities bring in (and quickly push out), while neglecting the fostering of high quality researchers.

For example, Larson et al., 2014 suggests that there are too many PhD students to ever replace the professors they worked for. Knowing this, The Economist  argues that the universities see PhD students as “cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour.”

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Larson et al. notes that less than 17% of new PhDs in science, engineering, and health-related fields find tenure track positions within three years after graduating. Three years!  For a less than one-in-five chance of stable employment.

The Times Higher Education states that since there are not enough tenured positions for PhD students to eventually get, many are left to only hold temporary contracts (and have lots of stress).

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The Guardian argues that this emphasis on PhD Students and much less on tenure track positions shows a lack of accountability by the departments and heads of the university.

Clauset et al. (2015) says that you stand a better chance of getting a tenure track position if you attended an elite university. For example, they found gross social inequality when they analyzed their data, noting that just a quarter of all universities in the USA and Canada equate to around 75% of all tenure-track faculty in the USA and Canada.

In the most simple terms: The field is saturated with PhD students.

Lessons:

  1. Go to the best university you can to earn your PhD. Note that “best” does not necessarily mean a) the hardest to get into, b) a good geographical location, or even c) a professor/research you want to work for/with. Best, in this case, means those elite schools that will connect you to the job market.
  2. Professors and various management administrators should work on revising plans to a) hire people who already hold PhDs and b) cut-back on hiring PhD students.
  3. There should be less emphasis placed on professors for hiring PhD students, and more emphasis placed on the quality of research they complete.

I recently checked Uppsala University’s website for job postings.

In rank order of the diversity of the jobs available:

Full professor positions = 0

Associate professor positions = 0

Assistant professor positions = 0

Postdoc positions = 0

Administrative positions = 0

PhD positions = 19

There were no less than 19 PhD positions, and no other career opportunities. In other words, don’t try to find a job in academics after you’re done with that PhD–there are no openings for you.

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New PhD students– you now have four years to find a job. Start looking!

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First Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Importance of Breastfeeding

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I was quite nervous about my first prenatal parent meeting. Would I understand everything? How many other parents would be there? How many other expectant fathers would be there? Would I make any friends? Would I like the midwife?

The questions were about to be answered as we approached the doors to the clinic around 3pm. The meeting would last for two hours. We were one of the last couples to come in.

Couples were sitting in a U-shape, with the midwife’s chair at the top. We took the last two seats and quickly realized we needed to write our names on a piece of paper. Lisa chose green–surprise, surprise.

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Being ever analytical, I had to observe everyone’s name. Notice anything in the above picture?

There were nine expectant mothers present; eight of whom were with their partner and one who was with her mother. All couples were Swedish, except one couple, where both were from Belgium, and of course myself.

We started off the first meeting by having the midwife tell us to be seated in our birthing order. We quickly discovered that we were the second youngest couple, with birthday’s ranging from around the 10th of January to the 27th. Ours is on the 25th.

After that,  everyone started introducing themselves one-by-one. To do this, we were instructed to come up with one word that describes themselves based on the first letter of their first name.

I said “mouth” for “Michael” since I like to talk a lot. After me was a woman who’s name started with an E. I’ll call her Elin. Elin said “ensam” (alone). Elin was the one person in the whole class who didn’t have the expectant father come with. It was a bit heartbreaking to hear her say ensam, and I immediately thought that the course could have had one course for couples and one course for people who will come alone.

This thought proved to be very true as the course progressed, but I’ll come to that in later posts.

After introducing ourselves, the midwife told us what to expect regarding the course and then we delved into the importance of breastfeeding. After the midwife spoke about breastfeeding for a while, we took a fika. No course can happen without a fika break!

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During fika we divided into groups–four groups of four, basically. Two groups of expectant moms and two of expectant dads. We were to talk about the lecture and our thoughts on breastfeeding.

The guys in my group were all pro-breastfeeding and all wanted to encourage their partners, but felt like the choice was really their partners and not there’s.

I discussed alternatives if our partners didn’t want to breastfeed, such as breast pumping and purchasing breast milk from others–the guys were less enthusiastic about this and some didn’t even know it was possible. The overall consensus from my group was that it was mostly the woman’s decision, although they liked the idea of breastfeeding.

After 10-15 minutes, we digressed into talking about who we were. So far, we hadn’t even done introductions of each other. All of the guys were professionals, and most commute to work (e.g. Stockholm), and not all live in Uppsala (e.g. one was living in Örebro, while his partner lived in Uppsala). And here I thought it was tough for me to come to a 3pm meeting. Others were traveling hours to make it to this course. One word: dedication!

We then met back up to go over our breastfeeding discussions. Turns out the other groups did similar things–talked about breastfeeding before digressing into getting to better know each other.

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There were several books a person could check out including a book on sex, on fathers, on breastfeeding, and on baby swimming

I didn’t make any friends, per se. But I did have a fun time.

Prenatal Parent Group Meetings: Background Information

I will have to attend a Swedish-speaking prenatal parental course. They were supposed to offer an English version, but the person who runs that course is on parental leave, so I am left to attend the Swedish version. Yikes!

This version is presumably better in some ways, as there are a couple of extra classes that you don’t get in the English version–apparently a couple of times, people from the outside (e.g. non-midwives) will come to discuss certain topics with the class. For example, we will have one class on relationships. That course is taught by two people from the Swedish church, rather than from the midwives at the clinic.

The course meets 6 times over a 1.5 month time period. And then a seventh visit about 1-1.5 months after we all have our babies (the first baby is due to be born a bit before mid-January, while the latest is the 27th of January….but who knows when they’ll actually all pop out 😉

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We have also learned that the midwife leading the class is from the same location as our midwife (Hjätat), but sadly is not our midwife 😦 They do rotations. This means that this is our fourth midwife so far (first midwife = first prenatal visit [she didn’t like father involvement so we discontinued seeing her], second midwife = current midwife at the MVC hjärtat, third midwife = ultrasound midwife).

This continuity of care is a bit annoying, personally. You search for a good midwife and make a connection with her, but meanwhile you’re just tossed from one midwife to the next. But I digress.

Anyway, at Hjärtet, they have several other ways to be involved while you’re pregnant.

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For example, the profylaxkurs is a type of massage class for partners, vattengympa is doing exercises in the water, pappaträff is for expectant dad’s to meet each other, väntabarn igen-träff–not sure what that is (maybe if you’re waiting for your second [third, etc] kid and want to meet other parents), regnbågsgrupp could maybe be for same-sex couples, and baby massage is just like it sounds.

Well, here goes nothing!

Prenatal Visits: Measuring and Testing

Three weeks after our last appointment, we met our prenatal midwife.

This visit was basically a repeat of the previous visit.

She answered our questions, did a iron-level blood test, measured the belly to see how the baby was growing, monitored the baby’s heartbeat, and took Lisa’s blood pressure.

 

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Since we knew the routine, this visit went a lot faster than the previous one–mainly because I was so curious and asked a lot of questions at the last visit. But since there was nothing new, I had little new questions to ask.

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The baby grew as expected. They have three lines on their computer chart–and upper limit, mean (or median [not sure]), and lower limit. Both measurements of the size of the baby is right below the mean (median) level.

 

However, Lisa’s iron levels were apparently “off the chart”–not literally. This must have been about week 29 (this may be off by one or so weeks). Lisa’s iron level was 137, but 110-120 is considered to be the average iron level for that week in her pregnancy. This was kind of funny too, because the baby’s heart rate was at about the same number.

Side note: I noticed on the first visit that I saw numbers of the baby’s heartbeat to be between 140-145, but the midwife said it was “140.” And then on the second visit, the heart rate jumped around from 134-141, and again she wrote 135. So I’m now wondering why they pick basically the lowest number, rather than the average number that they witness?

 

Prenatal Visits: Every Two to Three Weeks

A few weeks after our ultrasound, we visited the prenatal clinic.

We walked in and took a seat, genuinely interested in what the next steps were. After all, the pregnancy was all real now! The belly is growing. The baby is moving! We’ve seen the baby!

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Now what?

While we waited, our midwife popped from around the corner.

“Hey! How are you guys doing?” she said.

“Fantastic. Looking forward to the visit,” I replied without missing a beat.

“I’ll be with you in just a minute.”

Looking over at Lisa I said, “Wow! Can you believe she remembered us? And remembered that I’d prefer English?”

“Ya, she has a great memory,” Lisa replied.

#impressed

Sure as the morning star, a minute passed, and she whisked us back to her office. We could then ask any and all questions on our minds, while she had a few topics up her sleeve.

She showed us the “chart” that would be used every three weeks from here until the baby is born to measure things like the amount of iron in Lisa’s blood (via a simple blood test), measuring her blood pressure, measuring the size of her belly, and checking the baby’s heart beat.

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Inquisitive as I am, I had to ask how she found the uterus–the place where they measure from. I couldn’t feel it with my hands, but clearly she felt something and the measurement took place.

 

Then we waited and listened for the heart beat. That was almost as cool as the ultrasound. Hearing your child’s heartbeat was a great and euphoric feeling, especially for Lisa.

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Meanwhile, I started asking questions: What’s the heart rate? What’s a normal heart rate? What do we do if the baby’s heart rate is too fast?

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Answers: Around 142, 130-150, if it’s above 150, then they would make us wait and remeasure to see if the baby’s heart rate calms down. If it doesn’t then they would send us to the hospital to monitor the heartbeat for a longer time period to see if the baby’s stress level can go down or not.

She then took Lisa’s blood pressure and did a blood test to check for the iron levels. Her iron was right in the middle, which apparently meant that she should take one iron pill every second day from now on.

 

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The midwife then reminded us about the prenatal parent education classes that would be starting soon, and we started booking all of our prenatal visits between now and our baby’s due date (25th of January 2016). We will visit the midwife every three weeks (the normal routine for all parents in Sweden).

All of the midwives at the location we visit
All of the midwives at the location we visit

All in all, a great visit and great information.

Men’s Violence Against Women Statistics Sweden 2014

Statistics Sweden (SCB, 2014) published a report called Women and Men in Sweden: Facts and Figures 2014.

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Although this report is full of useful information, it draws a line regarding family or intimate partner violence. Despite the fact that the whole report constantly uses the word “equal” and its derivations, when it comes to domestic, family, or intimate partner violence, it has the headline: “Men’s violence against women must stop.”

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While I can appreciate the facts listed in the report, it signals that either there is no women’s violence against men or that women’s violence against men is acceptable.

Thankfully the sentence below the headline mentions “women and men, girls and boys shall have the same rights and opportunities in terms of physical integrity.”

That’s fantastic! But this equality between the genders is not represented in the title.

When I first read this type of headline “Violence Against Women Must Stop” I thought it would be analogous to “Black Lives Matter”. Black Lives Matter is an important phrase in the USA that gets undermined by the political right when they say “All Lives Matter”. It’s undermined because the other lives that aren’t black are not (typically) discriminated against.

NYC action in solidarity with Ferguson. Mo, encouraging a boycott of Black Friday Consumerism.
NYC action in solidarity with Ferguson. Mo, encouraging a boycott of Black Friday Consumerism.

So I wondered if trying to say “violence against people” would similarly be disadvantageous, as we typically think that it’s the man committing violence against the woman.

Assuming that it is disadvantageous to say violence against people, that is, with more men committing violence against women (than vice versa), the comparisons should still be in the report. This should be in the report for three reasons: 1) To show the extent that men and women differ with respect to this type of violence; 2) to be consistent with every other section (since all other topics compare the two genders); and 3) Not discussing this issue says that women either don’t hit men, or that as a man, you’re not supposed to report it if it happens-which is not the right signal to send to citizens.

The report also seems to jump around, switching from violence against women to a report of assaults. These numbers jump significantly. Men are way more likely to be hit outdoors, while women are much more likely to be hit indoors. But the authors choose to discuss “hidden statistics” rather than interpreting the graph.

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So should the report neglect women’s violence against men? Let’s see what the literature has to say about this issue:

Defining Violence Against Women

Apparently domestic violence, intimate partner violence, family violence, partner violence, violence against women—are all defined differently throughout the literature. The thing they all have in common is that they all refer to a partner committing violence against their partner. However, the literature definitions may vary and can expand on violence to include specific acts of violence, such as psychological, emotional, and sexual violence, as well as the threat of violence (Finnbogadóttir & Dykes, 2012). Domestic violence research indicates that violence is obviously associated with negative outcomes for the victim (Beydoun, Beydoun, Kaufman, Lo, & Zonderman, 2012), and is also associated with children’s emotional, behavioral, and social problems (Evans, Davies, & DiLillo, 2008; Wolfe, Crooks, Lee, McIntyre-Smith, & Jaffe, 2003). Since child abuse is a worldwide problem (Stoltenborgh, van IJzendoorn, Euser, & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2011), it can be important to understand risk factors surrounding child abuse (see Brown, Cohen, Johnson, & Salzinger, 1998).

A large debate within the partner violence literature is whether violence is 1) perpetrated by the male and the female is the victim or 2) that both partners may inflict violence upon one another (Archer, 2000). Many feminists focus on violence against women, while family violence researchers; sometimes called family conflict researchers (Archer, 2002), focus on the bi-directionality of both genders as perpetrators and as victims (Archer, 2002). The debate around these terms is beyond the scope of this thesis, but other sources provide a review on this topic (Enander, 2011).

Conclusion: saying “men’s violence against women” is already picking a side, since each label connotes a different meaning and the research is attacked from a different angle. For example, “family violence” researchers typically look at how partner to partner violence affects the family (mother, father, and child), while “violence against women” research mainly just looks at a man’s violence to their woman partner.

Prevalence of Partner to Partner Violence:

After reviewing the literature, Enander (2011) concludes that no violence is gender-neutral. In fact, two meta-analyses conclude that men and women use similar amounts of physical aggression towards their partners (Archer, 2000, 2006). Men and women, in relation to partner violence, is also similar with respect to the instrumentality, such as controlling behavior (Graham-Kevan, 2007). However, the degree to which they inflict an injury is biased toward men. For example, although women are slightly more likely to use physical aggression compared to men, as men inflict injury more often (62 percent) than women (38 percent) against their partners (Archer, 2000). There are gender differences that may help to explain the levels of injuries: for example, women are more likely to slap, kick, bite, punch, or hit their partner with an object, while men are more likely to beat-up, choke, or strangle their partner (Archer, 2002).

 

Prevalence. Based on a national sample in Sweden, Rådestad et al. (2004) found that 2 percent of women said they had been hit by their partner. Nearly two-thirds of these instances contained only one perpetration of being hit (61 percent), while 15 percent were hit three or more times. A Swedish study found that 1.3% of women either during or shortly after pregnancy were abused by a close acquaintance or relative (Stenson et al., 2001). In looking at the year prior to pregnancy, the same study found that this number rose to 2.8%. The wider they defined violence against women and the farther they looked back into a woman’s history, the more likely she was to have experienced abuse. In fact, 19.4% of women experience some type of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse between their birth and when they are 20 weeks post-partum. Stenson et al. (2001) concludes that routine practices need to be established for screening for violence against women during pregnancy.

Conclusion: In looking at the world and Swedish literature, it seems like men and women may commit partner violence equally as often, but that when men hit, they are more likely to injury their partner (e.g. hit harder).

While 2-3 % of Swedish women admit to having partner violence, these numbers are more prevalent if the definition is expanded to include other types of violence, such as emotional and sexual abuse–however I did not find numbers for men/fathers using these broader definitions and so it is difficult to compare.

To be fair–a recent article in The Lancent is a systematic review of intimate partner homicide, where they estimate, based on 66 countries’ data, that 13.5% of homicides are by their intimate partners. And that women are 6 times more likely to die from an intimate partner than a man.

However, men are still victims of partner violence, even if it’s to a much less extent (both in terms of frequency and degree) and therefore, their voices should still be heard.

References:

Archer, John. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological bulletin, 126(5), 651-680.

Archer, John. (2002). Sex differences in physically aggressive acts between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and violent behavior, 7(4), 313-351.

Archer, John. (2006). Cross-cultural differences in physical aggression between partners: A social-role analysis. Personality and social psychology review, 10(2), 133-153.

Beydoun, Hind A, Beydoun, May A, Kaufman, Jay S, Lo, Bruce, & Zonderman, Alan B. (2012). Intimate partner violence against adult women and its association with major depressive disorder, depressive symptoms and postpartum depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 75(6), 959-975.

Brown, Jocelyn, Cohen, Patricia, Johnson, Jeffrey G, & Salzinger, Suzanne. (1998). A longitudinal analysis of risk factors for child maltreatment: Findings of a 17-year prospective study of officially recorded and self-reported child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse Negl, 22(11), 1065-1078.

Enander, Viveka. (2011). Violent Women? The Challenge of Women’s Violence in Intimate Heterosexual Relationships to Feminist Analyses of Partner Violence. NORA-Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 19(2), 105-123.

Evans, Sarah E, Davies, Corrie, & DiLillo, David. (2008). Exposure to domestic violence: A meta-analysis of child and adolescent outcomes. Aggression and violent behavior, 13(2), 131-140.

Finnbogadóttir, Hafrún, & Dykes, Anna-Karin. (2012). Midwives’ awareness and experiences regarding domestic violence among pregnant women in southern Sweden. Midwifery, 28(2), 181-189.

Graham-Kevan, Nicola. (2007). Domestic violence: Research and implications for batterer programmes in Europe. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 13(3-4), 213-225.

Rådestad, Ingela, Rubertsson, Christine, Ebeling, Marie, & Hildingsson, Ingegerd. (2004). What factors in early pregnancy indicate that the mother will be hit by her partner during the year after childbirth? A nationwide Swedish survey. Birth, 31(2), 84-92.

Stenson, Kristina, Heimer, Gun, Lundh, Christina, Nordström, Marie-Louise, Saarinen, Hilkka, & Wenker, Anita. (2001). The prevalence of violence investigated in a pregnant population in Sweden. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 22(4), 189-197.

Stoltenborgh, Marije, van IJzendoorn, Marinus H, Euser, Eveline M, & Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian J. (2011). A global perspective on child sexual abuse: Meta-analysis of prevalence around the world. Child Maltreatment, 16(2), 79-101.

Sweden, Statistics. (2014). Women and men in Sweden: Facts and figures 2014. In L. Bernhardtz (Ed.). Örebro, Sweden.

Wolfe, David A, Crooks, Claire V, Lee, Vivien, McIntyre-Smith, Alexandra, & Jaffe, Peter G. (2003). The effects of children’s exposure to domestic violence: A meta-analysis and critique. Clinical child and family psychology review, 6(3), 171-187.