What are your research topics?
I examine equality in the workplace and how various intersecting differences, such as gender, age and socio-cultural background, affect access to employment, job security and sensible career paths. Distinctions and social categories produce differing opportunities and privileges, as well as exclusion and marginalisation.
In my research, I have examined, among other things, the effect of care duties, age and appearance requirements on the career advancement of women in management and expert positions. With my researcher colleagues, I have investigated the obstacles to employment for highly educated women with foreign backgrounds. Demographic changes in Finnish society make it necessary to enable the participation of diverse people in work.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
In my research on working life, organisations and management, I strive to consider ways to develop a working life of the future that is humanely and societally sustainable. Promoting equality improves the employment opportunities of different people and engenders occupational wellbeing, the capacity to cope and productivity.
A healthy work community is an important resource for the entire organisation. We have studied these themes in our extensive WeAll project, which is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland.
Open discussion on faults and points of contention that often remain unseen, such as harassment, discrimination and emotional workplace abuse, and the identification of bad practices open avenues to change. Working life is connected to the surrounding society.
In the future, the share of knowledge-intensive work will grow in many countries. Reconciling work and personal life may be somewhat easier when work is not integrally linked with a specific place and time. At the same time, flexibility brings new challenges, including the organisation of telecommuting and hybrid work.
You can immerse yourself in meaningful work, sometimes even too much. Work must not be temporally too stressful. You have to leave enough room for your personal life, your family, friends and hobbies. This puts weight on the leadership of experts.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
I am inspired by the possibility of change. Organisations and work culture in the pandemic and beyond can be developed to be increasingly diverse. Safeguarding the capabilities and opportunities for the participation of different people makes it possible to establish an inclusive and non-discriminatory working life that is also effective and economically successful.
Marjut Jyrkinen is the professor of gender studies with a special emphasis on working life equality at the Faculty of Arts.