University of Helsinki: Sexual harassment at the University addressed

The Helsinki Association of Women Researchers has conducted a survey on sexual harassment at the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the University of the Arts Helsinki and the Hanken School of Economics as well as research institutes affiliated with the institutions of higher education. According to the survey, half of women and a third of men have experienced sexual harassment. The 440 respondents featured both staff and students.

The survey suggests that young women are particularly targeted for sexual harassment, with first-year students, doctoral students embarking on their dissertations and fixed-term employees at predominant risk.

“These results are troubling and they must be addressed.  We must change the culture that enables such abuses of power.  In addition, we have to improve our communications so that people who have experienced or witnessed harassment would always know whom to contact. We always take cases of sexual harassment seriously; this is also my message to people who have experienced harassment. I would like to encourage them to talk to the University’s harassment contact people so that we can begin to investigate these cases,” says Esa Hämäläinen, director of administration. 

Staff who have experienced harassment can reach out to the harassment contact people, their supervisors or the occupational safety delegate.  Students can contact their teacher, the heads of the relevant department or the harassment contact person. Every teacher at the University is obligated to intervene if they witness harassment.

Until now, a relatively small number of cases has been reported to the University. For some years, no harassment has been reported while for others, several cases have been reported. Questions about harassment have been included in the workplace wellbeing surveys, which are conducted regularly. In the survey, the question of harassment includes inappropriate behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

“We have clear guidelines for cases of inappropriate behaviour and harassment. All reported cases are investigated and the necessary steps are taken.  Every student and employee has the right to a safe and comfortable work and study environment,” says Hämäläinen.

Further information about the University’s equality and diversity work

Harassment contact people:

Terhi Somerkallio, University of Helsinki

+358 50 415 1635

Timo Valtonen, University of Helsinki

+358 50 448 9668

Juhani Turunen, Student Union of the University of Helsinki

+358 50 551 6146

Hannele Kirveskoski, Student Union of the University of Helsinki

+358 50 543 9608

Vice-Rector Pertti Panula, chair of the Equality Committee

+358 50 448 0901