Meet Klara Regnö: "The same passion at work and on the dance floor"
In 2013 Klara Regnö publicly defended her doctoral thesis at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and was awarded the prize for that year's research in HR. She studied at New York University, did her internship at the UN headquarters in New York and has participated in several government investigations. Currently, Klara Regnö works as a Senior Equal Opportunities Strategist at Karolinska Institutet (KI) and previously held a position as Research Coordinator in the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at the University of Gothenburg. In addition to her research, Regnö supervises thesis students and is the Course Coordinator for the Organization Form and Function course at MDU.
When she is not working or dancing tango, she enjoys being in the Swedish mountains or just being with her family and children. And there are similarities.
“The Argentine Tango has its rules, but requires the presence and creativity of the practitioner, just like research,” explains Klara Regnö, Senior Lecturer in Organisation and Management and Researcher in equal opportunities, organisation and management at MDU.
But let us start at the beginning.
She discovered this research domain when she got involved as a student at the Stockholm School of Economics. At that time, the Stockholm School of Economics had never had a female professor, and the students arranged seminars and discussions on both knowledge content and teachers.
“There was a research group that worked with these issues, and at the end of my studies I was asked to conduct an assignment. It was so much fun and I realised that research suited me, and the combination of interacting with people and sitting and working by myself is very enjoyable,” says Klara Regnö.
The focus is on the gender gap and inequalities in organisations. How they arise, what consequences it has for us people and not least, how this can be changed.
“Conditions can differ greatly between the various groups in the same organisation. Who gets to pursue a career, who is seen as a deviant and why we have different prerequisites for people's well-being in an organisation,” explains Regnö.
So, what is a gender gap and inequality?
“It can be observed through differences in salaries, working hours, health and career development opportunities. But also in working conditions in general, both in terms of responsibility and support,” she says.
She is primarily interested in what things look like in various parts of society, and one of the great benefits is that Klara Regnö gets to suddenly appear in various contexts, both in the private sector and in public healthcare. This means that she has conducted research both in areas with few female leaders and also where they are in the majority.
One example is the healthcare sector, where the pandemic highlighted how overstretched the conditions are for those who work there, and how a situation has been allowed to develop where there is no surplus.
“Being a manager in the female-dominated healthcare sector is completely different from being a manager in the private sector. In healthcare, you could be responsible for 100 employees, which is like being a leader for an entire company, and with large complex assignments and organisational areas. This often means greater management responsibility, but at the same time less support and lower pay. Drawing attention to this also means that you can question it and start making changes,” explains Regnö.
Many regions have also begun to think about how they can reorganise their ways of working. For example, the Västra Götaland region has been working for a long time to reduce the size of its employee groups.
“Looking back 100 years, we certainly have more gender balance and a more equal society now, but there is still a gender gap and inequality. Development does not automatically move forward, but society becomes what we make it,” she believes.
Klara Regnö would like to contribute to the social discussion and as a Researcher she is also involved in this way, notably in an equal opportunities programme at the Swedish Armed Forces. Furthermore, she wants to understand things, and has a creative passion for discovery.
“All researchers wish to contribute in some way, whether it is developing medicines or something else. Just sitting and thinking about your material, reading others and suddenly understanding how things are connected is great fun.”
And she knows what she's talking about. Regnö divides her time between MDU and KI as a way to work with both the theoretical and the practical, she participates in management development programmes and gives regular lectures to managers. In addition, she has participated in various government investigations relating to the private sector and believes that there are still very few women in leadership positions who have absolute power and the best financial conditions.
What advice would you give students who want to conduct research?
“Find a topic which you find so exciting and interesting and which also lets you maintain your ambition, joy and energy. This is necessary to be able to work in this world. But life as a researcher also implies many other duties; going to meetings, applying for funding and teaching,” says Regnö.
Speaking of joy and energy. What about that tango?
“Argentine Tango is great for relaxing. It is creative and has many improvisational components. But it's been a while since I was out on the pista, the Spanish word for dance hall or dance floor. On the one hand, we’ve had a pandemic, and with a partner and two daughters, there is a lot going on. Ordinary everyday things and the children's leisure activities.”
What makes you laugh out loud?
“In general when situations become absurd. Such as yesterday when my daughters, who sing in a choir, were going to practice we sang together as a family. It sounded ridiculous and was very funny.”