Category Archives: Invited Presentations

A Discussion on Fatherhood with Swedish Child Health Professionals

Starting in 2012, a conference is organized once a semester for those child health professionals in Stockholm working in the prenatal clinics, child health centers, preschools, and social services with children (aged 0-6) and their families.

The conference was organized by Åsa Heimer and Catharina Neovius.

A large hotel where the conference was held in Rinkeby-Kista.

In March of 2015, the conference topic was on the importance of fathers. Mats Berggren from Män för Jämställdhet (Men for Gender Equality) and myself would be giving the main lectures for the day. 

Those in attendance are all Swedish-speaking (while I’m not so much), and they mainly work with non-native Swedish families (around 80% of their families are not originally from Sweden), with many of them working in the Rinkeby-Kista area (Stockholm).

I didn’t see a huge difference in how these professionals should treat fathers, based on their country of origin (except to note that some fathers would be less involved and feel like they should be less involved in childrearing compared to Swedish fathers). However, since the Swedish child health field typically doesn’t involve fathers via providing them with support (at least not to the same extent as mothers), I felt like the advice could be more general and simple:

                   Treat mothers and fathers similarly, by giving                                                    them each the individual support that they require.

So I made both an English version (not presented) and a Swedish version (presented).

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Click on the picture to see the English presentation.
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Click on the picture to see the Swedish presentation

The audience, however, was much larger than I expected. There were maybe 100+ professionals eagerly listening. In addition, they didn’t want to hear research, but rather more practical advice on how and why to interact and involve fathers–so that’s what I tried to gear my talk towards.


Having worked in Quality Assurance in Head Start for three years, you come to quickly realize that no one likes their jobs being critiqued. So I was super-glad when several audience members spoke up acknowledging the problems they face, watching professionals take notes, and having all of my printed copies of the powerpoint snatched up.

I then received a wonder gift package for presenting 🙂


My only regret was not approaching these professionals individually and in small groups afterwards to get their feedback–after all, I’m not lecturing to hear myself, but because I believe that behavior changes are important, but difficult and that we all need to work together to make the important changes that we desire.

Invited Conference Presentation at SUDA: The Swedish Ploy of Promoting Equal Parenting

At the end of October 2015, I had the opportunity to present some of my research at Stockholm University Demography Unit‘s (SUDA) colloquium.

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I have neverleader5466 been invited to or involved in a colloquium like this; although now I understand what the term “conference paper” means. So I came a few weeks early to 1) see how a colloquium operates and 2) to meet a research rockstar, Dr. Linda Haas (this proved extra fruitful, because she let me discuss my research with her, as well as interview her about fatherhood in Sweden. In other words, take the opportunities to meet your research heroes–the just may turn out to be as nice and great as you’d expect).

While many research groups hold monthly seminars/presentations, a colloquium like at SUDA asks participants to share a copy of their manuscript, as well as to provide a presentation.

This involves work!

Most of the time, I create a presentation a couple of days before the actual talk. Now I need to send an entire manuscript at least one week ahead of my scheduled talk, to allow researchers time to read and critique my work.


On one hand, this is a bit daunting, because you want to write well (so as not to embarrass yourself on a given topic), while also not coming so far in the publication timeline, that comments will be unhelpful (e.g. if the manuscript has already been submitted, or worse, accepted).

So I picked a topic I had thought about, but hadn’t yet written about. Plus, this would motivate me to take time out of the summer to focus on this manuscript.

I gave a presentation entitled: The Swedish Ploy of Promoting Equal Parenting: Paradoxes in Policy Implementation Regarding Paternal Involvement in Childcare

*Clearly, I enjoy a good alliteration.

Since this is still a work in progress, I won’t upload the manuscript, but in the presentation I discussed the ways in which fathers are told via society to be good fathers, while at the same time, highlighting the various paradoxes of how organizations hold fathers back.

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Click on the picture to see the presentation.

I pay specific attention to the Swedish child health field, workplaces, and maternal gatekeeping, as well as to policy barriers, especially the Swedish parental leave act.


Unlike other seminar series that I’ve attended, I was the only speaker. So after my presentation (about 20 minutes), I then had 40 minutes of questioning from the audience.

This was fabulous, as long as I remembered to accept their comments, rather than being defensive (I always feel I have to defend my baby). Hearing the comments though was great–not because I had persuaded all of the audience (far from it), but because they gave me new directions to go down, topics to clip out, and insights to make certain arguments stronger.

I was not only impressed from the level of audience participation (especially from advice from Dr. Ann-Zofie Duvander), but of SUDA’s entire colloquium; where they are always bringing in new researchers, often from various parts of the world. This not only allows researchers to share their latest findings, but also allows those working at SUDA a chance to hear from and critique many different types of researchers.

I strongly recommend participating in and hosting your own colloquiums!

Being asked to present to Swedish doctors on father involvement

Social Pediatrics sits just beyond the others in the Faculty of Medicine (and even beyond those in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health) at Uppsala University, both literally and figuratively.

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So, in order to help bridge that gap, Anna Sarkadi, the leader of the Social Pediatrics Research Group, thought that it would be a nice idea to bring in three presenters to speak about important topics related to health, while at the same time promoting our team by hosting the presentations and having a poster session prior to the presentations.

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One guest speaker came each month for three months to give a 20 minute presentation on some topic involving families and health. Click here to see the monthly schedule of speakers (written in Swedish and English depending on the presenters language).

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.45.43 AMThe first speaker was Sven Bremberg (pictured left), a huge name in Sweden, especially when talking about child health, is an Associate Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Bendeguz Nagy, a Hungarian traveller, explores the world in his wheelchair, allowing him to photograph and experience the world from a different view-point. He gave a speech on a few different cultures he encountered, highlighting through pictures the differences in family life. To see some of his pictures click here for his photography website.

The third presenter was myself, Michael Wells, who talked about father involvement within the healthcare field in Sweden and Internationally. Click here to see the slides from my presentation.

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Unfortunately, beyond our research group, only a handful of people showed up for Sven’s and Bendeguz’s talks, so I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd. So when I saw that the room was not only packed, but people were standing, I thought that this must be an important topic that Swedish medical workers care about.

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The talked reverberated with the audience, with several people afterwards giving testimonials as fathers, while workers from the hospital described how they involved (didn’t involve) fathers. Since the talk was such a hit, Jan Gustafsson, the Head of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, asked me to come to a lunch seminar for all pediatricians in the fall of 2013 to present for an hour and 15 minutes on the topic of father involvement in healthcare.