Recognition for equality projects in Viikki

This year’s Maikki Friberg Award was presented to two recipients: the Viikki Postdoctoral Association (ViPA) and the Viikki Women’s Life Science Network.

The Viikki Postdoctoral Association (ViPA) aims to strengthen a community among postdoctoral researchers in Viikki and to promote their interaction. ViPA was established in 2016 to represent postdoctoral researchers and to ensure, for example, equal opportunities for career development.

“It is our utmost hope that these activities will establish a strong and sustainable postdoctoral community in Viikki that will continue to support and develop postdocs for the foreseeable future,” says postdoctoral researcher Maureen Akinyi.

ViPA will use the Maikki Friberg Award money to organise symposiums and social evenings. The association also plans to provide tailored support to postdoctoral researchers at workshops and seminars addressing career development and work-life balance. In addition, the association aims to organise a Viikki science fair to raise social awareness of scientific activities in Viikki and encourage interaction with the wider Viikki community.

Encouragement for women who choose an academic career

The Viikki Women’s Life Science Network aims to support its members in their careers. The network was established by postdoctoral researchers Kira Holmström and Johanna Englund in early 2017.  

Johanna Englund considers the Maikki Friberg Award highly encouraging and sees it as a signal that the network is important and useful:

“We wish to encourage particularly female postdoctoral researchers who are leading a research group or just beginning their independent research career. Our experience shows that peer support and mentoring are especially important at these career stages.”

Women currently account for approximately 70% of all University of Helsinki master’s students, but their share drops dramatically on the next rungs of the academic career ladder. Less than 30% of researchers and professors on the fourth level of the career path hierarchy are women.

“Our goal is for more women to choose an academic career and succeed. We support women’s career progress, for example, by recommending them as lecturers and mentors and providing advice and assistance,” says postdoctoral researcher Johanna Englund.

The Maikki Friberg Award is granted annually for notable work promoting equality and diversity at the University of Helsinki. All members of the University community may suggest potential recipients. The award sum is €6,000, which was shared equally by this year’s two recipients.