Category Archives: Topical Research

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!

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.

PhD Salary in the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University

One of the best things about being a PhD student in Sweden is the salary. PhD students in the USA often only have to work 20 hours per week (with an assistantship) or maybe technically, 0 hours per week (with a fellowship). Still others do not have to work, but do have to pay to attend their PhD program. Yuck!

When students do work, it’s not uncommon to get between $12,000-$18,000 per year (or per school year), while some fancy people may get as high as $30,000. For example, my buddy got $17,000 plus another $10,000 fellowship.

But those numbers pale in comparison to Sweden! Click here to see the pdf of the Uppsala University pay scale for PhD students in Medicine.

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Currently, a starting PhD student will have to work 40 hours per week, but that also includes their course work, conference time, etc, and their work (i.e. research). In compensation for that, they receive 25,000 SEK per month ($2936 per month or $35,232 per year–and that’s at the current crappy conversion rate [1:8.52]).

When students are 50% completed with their PhD they earn 27,900 SEK per month ($3276 per month) and when they’re 80% completed (all but dissertation normally), then they receive 29,700 SEK per month ($3488 per month or $41,856 per year!).  Plus all of the government benefits and pension money.

Of course, if you are not just a researcher, but also a physician, then your salary increases to a whopping 35,700 SEK per month ($50,304 per year)!

Not too shabby to be a PhD student in Sweden!

Swedish Gender Equality Defined Poorly by Statistics Sweden

In highlighting 30 years of gender progress, a recent Swedish government report states that gender equality gaps are closing (Statistics Sweden, 2014).

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Although this report is very useful and helps to shed light on important factors for women/mothers and men/fathers regarding gender equality in the home, childcare, and workplace, the report focuses on gender equality mainly in terms of the amount of time women/mothers and men/fathers spend in doing something (e.g. work, housework, childcare).

This post will point out the major flaws in defining “gender equality” the way this report does.

For example, the report says the gender gap is closing regarding housework (after all it’s listed under the headline “Gender Equality Since the 1980s” on page 4). But on page 5, they start going deeper saying  that women have reduced their amount of unpaid work by one hour, while men have increased their amount of unpaid work by only eight minutes since 1990.

In other words, gender equality is being achieved just because women are doing less around the house. Thank you dishwasher for making my house more gender equal. Thank you maid for making us a gender equal family. Thank you childcare worker for watching our kids all day and night, and thus, we both spend an equal amount of time with our kids. Hypothetically this could mean that parents spend 0 hours per week doing housework, childcare, etc to reach “gender equality”.

Obviously that last example wouldn’t happen–but defining gender equality this way allows for that interpretation if it did happen. Focusing on the amount of time someone spends doing something is a horrible way to judge equality.

Two definitions (among many others) would be to focus on productivity and/or the intensity/amount of labor it takes to complete a task.

1) Being Productive: If one person diddle-daddles around the house while cleaning, they all of a sudden, get more points for the amount of housework completed, compared to the efficient houseworker???

2) Intensity:  Putting away dishes is a daily chore, but low-intensity. Pulling weeds is a weekly chore, but high intensity. (Substitute weed pulling for raking leaves or snow shoveling, depending on the season).

It’s not fair to judge women and men based on how much time they spend doing chores, especially if they also don’t consider the productivity of the worker or the intensity of the chore.

The Swedish government, which prides itself on achieving gender equality needs to do a better job of more accurately defining this important term. Otherwise, the outcomes are biased and therefore not as untrustworthy.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Implementation Guide: Hamre, Goffin, Kraft-Sayre

Hamre, Goffin, Kraft-Sayre created a nice slideshow of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Implementation Guide. An overview from the index points out that this slide show goes over topics such as: investing in effective teacher-child interactions, the classroom assessment scoring system: an overview, improving teacher-child interactions, evaluation and monitoring, and professional development.

For other blogs on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): click here to read a synopsis on CLASS and other early childhood assessment tools, click here to see the breakdown of the CLASS content (the domains and dimensions), click here to read more about Dr Hamre’s work regarding CLASS and academic achievement, or click here to find research that has been published using CLASS as an assessment tool.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): Interventions for Academic Achievement

Bridget K. Hamre (hamre@virginia.edu) at the University of Virginia presented at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference a PowerPoint that lays out what the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) can do: namely, assess the classroom quality, while pairing that up with academic achievement for adolescents in high school. She has also given an interview with ScienceWatch on her thoughts on CLASS and on early childhood social science research in general.

Hamre’s PowerPoint provides a lot of nice background information on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) including topics like CLASS’ scope and alignment, what is CLASS?, CLASS versions, What does CLASS measure?, What are the domains and dimensions of CLASS?, Standardizing CLASS, CLASS Training, Reliability and Validity of CLASS, data on CLASS, alignment with professional development, and an academic intervention using CLASS-S.

For other blogs on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): click here to read a synopsis on CLASS and other early childhood assessment tools, click here to see the breakdown of the CLASS content (the domains and dimensions), click here to read about CLASS and how to implement it, or click here to find research that has been published using CLASS as an assessment tool.

President Obama and Early Childhood Education

President Obama says that he would like to greatly expand the role of Early Childhood Education.

President Obama says that it’s economically beneficial to increase Early Childhood Education.

President Obama says that Early Childhood Education Quality is not good and is even worse for low-income children.

What are you going to do about it?