Book Chapter

From Exception to Norm – the Development of Resilience in a Network

Chapter Authors
Ylva Elvin-Nowak, Greta Gober, Lotta Snickare

Cappelen Damm Akademisk


What is the state of gender equality in science and technology? Gender Equality in Academia – from Understanding to Change presents the results of a comprehensive research project and program of initiatives at the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Researchers have examined gender equality within the department, looking at reasons for imbalance, and at what occurs when measures to promote equality are implemented.

The book opens with an in-depth study of careers, gender issues and gender balance within academia. The study, based on questionnaires, interviews and follow-up evaluation, provides a new and updated understanding of the daily lives of academics in Norway. Among the topics covered are perceptions of equality and gender balance, effects of male dominance, sexual harassment, gender with respect to publishing, and the relationship between gender and diversity.

In addition to presenting new empirical data, the book is also an innovative contribution to theoretical development within gender equality research. In the second part of the book, the authors present three working models that elucidate current mechanisms recreating gender imbalance, and challenges for gender equality. The book’s final part consists of analyses of measures taken to increase gender equality within the department and their effects, and what an organization can do to increase gender equality.

The range of topics in this book make it relevant for all those concerned with gender equality in research and higher education. Researchers, administrators, students, other practitioners, and politicians will all find this book of interest.

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From Exception to Norm – the Development of Resilience in a Network Combining gender theory with research on resilience, this chapter analyzes the effects of an action research project aimed at increasing the number of women in senior research positions at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Oslo University. As a part of the project, the faculty management nominated fif- teen women professors and associate professors to attend a programme to improve their skills in writing articles and research applications. Individual interviews with all participants prior to the programme revealed that they would prefer to build a network where they could share experiences and discuss various topics. The two- year programme was therefore structured as a forum where we as action researchers offered theoretical input on topics chosen by the participants and worked with dia- logue tools, focusing on these topics, in a structured and time-efficient exchange of experiences. The analysis shows that resilience is an essential skill in organizations characterized by critical scrutiny and competition. In the chapter, we describe how the network participants become more resilient by reflecting themselves in, and sharing experiences with, each other. Being in a context with other recognized top researchers without being the odd one out – the woman who has to prove herself – improves the ability to cope with adversity.

Keywords: gender equality, resilience, network, academia

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About the Author

Greta Gober

Greta Gober, doctor of humanities (in the field of cultural studies), Polish feminist media researcher living and working in Sweden (Stockholm). Greta was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Leading Research Environment in Global Media Studies and Po... Read more


Elvin-Nowak, Y., Gober, G. and Snickare, L. (2021). From Exception to Norm – the Development of Resilience in a Network. In: Ø. Gullvåg Holter and L. Snickare, eds., Gender Equality in Academia – from Understanding to Change, 1st ed. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk, pp. 329-353.