Research bills

Gender research and initiatives to improve gender equality in academia have been emphasised in Swedish policy making since the 1990s. The next research bill outlining the present Government’s research policy will be presented in 2016.

Since 1977, the Swedish Government has drawn up the guidelines for Sweden’s research policy by presenting a special research bill each parliamentary term, which means every three years prior to 1994 and every four years thereafter. In the autumn of 2016, the Government will present the research bill for the present term.

The bill will cover research, higher education and research-related innovation in the next four years but will also present a 10-year perspective.

Gender and gender equality in previous research bills

Below follows a summary of how previous research bills since the 1990s have related mainly to gender research.

1996: Research and society

Forskning och samhälle [research and society – bill 1996/97:5] was presented by Carl Tham under Social Democratic government. This was the first research bill that used the word gender.

With this bill, the Government set aside funding for 18 full-time positions for gender research within comparative literature, sociology, information technology, public health, physics education and human-machine. This resulted in the establishment of a professorship, a research associateship and a doctoral studentship in each subject, with funding equalling SEK 10 million. Linköping University received extra resources to develop Tema Genus, and the Center for Equality Studies (today the Centre for Gender Studies) in Karlstad was also granted additional funding.

The Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research was established at the University of Gothenburg, with a budget of SEK 5 million and an assignment to investigate, create public opinion, stimulate and inform about gender research. The women’s history collections at the Gothenburg University Library were proposed to be appointed national resource library for women’s, men’s and gender studies.

2000: Research and renewal

Forskning och förnyelse [research and renewal – prop. 2000/01:3] was presented by Thomas Östros under Social Democratic government. The Swedish Research Council – the new government agency for research funding – was tasked to strengthen the impact of the gender perspective in Swedish research and was allocated SEK 10 million in special resources to fund gender research. In addition, SEK 12 million was reserved for the period 2001–2003 for the development of a graduate school in gender research, hosted by Umeå University.

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (which preceded the present the Swedish Higher Education Authority and the Swedish Council for Higher Education) was assigned to develop the teaching of gender and gender equality in programmes on law and business and economics. All disciplines must be able to include gender perspectives at the undergraduate level.

2004: Research for a better life

Forskning för ett bättre liv [research for a better life – prop. 2004/05:80] was presented by Leif Pagrotsky under Social Democratic government. This bill implied a SEK 12 million reinforcement of the Swedish Research Council’s special funding for gender research, as well as an SEK 1 million increase in the funding of the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research.

The bill also provided that the four main research-funding agencies, that is, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (today the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, Forte), the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) and the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova), should work actively to integrate gender perspectives in their support of research and development.

2008: A boost to research and innovation

Ett lyft för forskning och innovation [a boost to research and innovation – prop. 2008/09:50] was presented by Lars Leijonborg under centre-right government. The bill did not change anything with respect to the Swedish Research Council’s special resources for funding of gender research.

Gender research was emphasised in the bill in order to meet a need for increased knowledge regarding women’s health, discrimination based on gender, men’s studies, men’s violence against women and effective gender equality work.

2012: Research and innovation

Forskning och innovation [research and innovation – prop. 2012/13:30] was presented by Jan Björklund under centre-right government. There were no formulations about gender, yet the bill announced a SEK 32 million investment in research to strengthen gender equality primarily in academia and the public sector. The funds were administered by Vinnova through a call for proposals titled needs-based research for increased gender equality.

Author Swedish secretariat for gender research. Published 1st of December 2016
The research bill 2016
In the development of the upcoming Swedish research bill, scheduled to be presented in autumn 2016, the Government has tasked the research-funding agencies to propose strategies and feedback. Other organisations and actors are also invited to submit material, an opportunity that for example the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research has taken advantage of. The process is once again supported by a research policy advisory committee comprising representatives from the research community, and a national expert group for increased gender equality in academia will also provide input. The expert group includes Fredrik Bondestam, research coordinator at the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research.