Could Creaky Voice Decrease the Pay Gap in Estonia?

The social power structure is reflected in the way people communicate. Attitudes related to these structures can therefore be noted in the way we behave in conversations. These structures are influenced by numerous factors, such as the age difference between conversational partners or the nature of their relationship. For example, the social positions of conversational partners towards each other could be described by pointing out who speaks more, who directs the topic of the conversation, or who interrupts others more.

Kim Kardashian, who is known for her creaky voice, taking a selfie with Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Photo credit: Instagram/@kimkardashian

Study of conversational dominance patterns has shown that women are interrupted much more than men. For example, in the first US presidential election debate last year, Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times, while Clinton interrupted Trump 17 times. Although those kinds of interferences aren’t necessarily aggressive or even arrogant, men often interrupt women just to ensure dominant positions for themselves.

Terms such as “manterruption” (a man’s unnecessary interference when a woman is speaking), “mansplaining” (when a man cuts a woman’s speech short so he can explain something – even when she happens to be an expert on the subject), as well as “bropropriating” (when a man takes credit for a woman’s idea) have started to spread in social media to point out the social inequality between men and women. Continue reading

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Jayaruwan Gunathilake: From the Tropics to Northern Europe

Estonia was nowhere near my horizon when I first left my home country, Sri Lanka, to study abroad back in 2011. That was nearly four years after finishing high school. Serious lack of higher education opportunities in Sri Lanka essentially led me to leave the country. However, in retrospect, it is probably one of the best decisions I ever made. It was not a trivial decision but a necessary one. If it were only for one semester abroad, it would have been a no-brainer. But leaving one’s home country for an extended period of time is rather different. Back then I was not sure of what to expect – new country, new language, culture shock. It was not all doubts, though – there was definitely enough excitement as well. Thus, I moved to Pennsylvania, USA, in 2011 for my bachelor’s degree.

Jayaruwan Gunathilake from Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Argo Ingver

Four years in the United States may seem like a long time, but it went by incredibly fast. After completing my bachelor’s degree in chemistry, I faced the regular dilemma: graduate school or employment? At first I thought of going to graduate school in the United States; however, there were problems with taking the GRE test on time (standardized test that is an admissions requirement for most graduate schools in the United States). The day I was supposed to take the GRE was rescheduled due to unforeseen weather circumstances, so I could not meet the deadline. Meanwhile, I was also looking for employment without much luck. It proved to be rather difficult, especially as a foreigner with visa restrictions in the United States. In December 2015, I moved back to Sri Lanka.

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Top 10 Most Read Stories from 2016

As we are entering the new year, let’s take a look back and see what was popular on our blog in 2016. The following stories had the highest number of readers throughout the year and cover a wide range of topics both in research and university life. If you haven’t already read them, now is your chance!

Here comes the list:

1. 10 Estonian Tongue Twisters for Language Addicts

If you take up the challenge of learning these Estonian phrases, then you are a language addict. These are not easy even for Estonians to pronounce.

If this is your first or an early-stage encounter with Estonian language, then a two-step initiation with 10 Tongue Twisters To Get You Started on Estonian and 10 Estonian Tongue Twisters for Language Hackers is strongly recommended.

kuuuurija töööö ööülikoolis

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The Reason For Strokes in Children Is Still Unknown; Rehabilitation Is Getting Better

Strokes – surely those are an illness affecting the elderly, aren’t they? OK, they affect middle-aged, overworked men too.  But did you know that in Estonia, three to four newborns leave the hospital with a diagnosis of stroke each year?

Later on, perinatal stroke is diagnosed in another six to seven small children. Perinatal means that the stroke happened during pregnancy, at the time of birth, or right after birth.

Taking into account that nearly 14 000 children are born in Estonia every year, perinatal stroke can be considered to be relatively rare. Rael Laugesaar, Junior Research Fellow at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tartu, says that both perinatal stroke and stroke in small children are more frequent than people think. “Unfortunately, neither the doctors nor people in general have sufficient awareness of strokes in children”.

Rael Laugessaar, a research assistant at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tartu. Photo credit: Andres Tennus

Her doctoral thesis, defended six years ago, shed light on the fact that in relation to the population of Estonia, perinatal stroke occurs more often here than in any other country in the world. Perinatal, prenatal, or newborn strokes are those that occur from the 20th week of pregnancy until the point when the baby is 28 days old.

As clinical symptoms are often missing or low-key, the diagnosis of a stroke can be delayed. The first symptoms of a stroke that may be spotted in children are often related with development of motor skills (movements a baby makes with his arms, legs, feet, or his entire body) – or, more precisely, a delay in these.

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This Christmas Comes with DIY Presents!

Making something with one’s own hands has become more and more popular each year. With Christmas almost here, a group of DIY-girls is challenging everyone to be the true creators of the presents and join the “This Christmas Comes with DIY Presents!” campaign.

The campaign started two years ago when four girls – Eliise Ott, Helena Maripuu, Liina Kuzemtšenko and Kai Reinfeldt – all communication students at the University of Tartu at the time, initiated it as a part of their studies. They all share a certain interest in handicraft. For Liina, it’s baking; Eliise repairs her home; Helena has sold jewellery she makes herself; and Kai loves to knit.

The initiators of the “This Christmas Comes with DIY Presents” campaign – Liina Kuzemtšenko, Kai Reinfeldt, Eliise Ott, and Helena Maripuu.

For many people, buying Christmas presents has become a frustrating task, so they just grab things from the shelves of a supermarket – an act that causes no joy to the maker of the gift, and the same can be said of the receiver. These girls believe that a self-created present, on the other hand, is a wonderful opportunity to send a signal to close ones about how much they mean to us. They see that you have made an effort, put your time and skills into the making of an unique object, and that’s what makes a self-produced gift much more special in comparison to something bought from a store. No gadget that you can find in the shop can have this kind of meaning. In addition to all this, the habit of buying mass products as so-called “last minute gifts” can be broken this way, and this is a good thing ecologically.

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Triin Kask – Born To Be an Entrepreneur

Already at an early age I started thinking about who I would like be in future, and by the time I was 12 I had decided to become a millionaire. I remember planning to study finance management in a place where you can get the best possible education and after that to open a great bank. This did not seem impossible at all. Today, I am far from working in a bank, and the goal of becoming a millionaire has also disappeared in the shadow of the exciting and meaningful life I live now.


Triin Kask

I have made quite a few right choices in my life, which, unexpectedly to me, have finally directed me to entrepreneurship. It all started with dreams and decisions. The first decision was to study at the University of Tartu Faculty of Economics. This decision was influenced by my parents, who were patriots of UT and told me that the education given at the University of Tartu was the best education. Currently, I am writing my doctoral thesis and I am closely connected with the university; for example, I have promoted entrepreneurship among our students and tried to spread my belief that in entrepreneurship one can apply all the skills obtained through economics studies.

Actually, on several occasions I did apply for a job in a bank, but did not get any further from the job interviews, as I lacked experience. As a fresh graduate, it seemed to me that all people lived as if running in a squirrel cage and never stopped to understand or find the meaning of life. Yet I wanted to get into the wheel myself and start living in a closed system. Well, life is ironic sometimes. Looking back, I am happy I did not get a job in the bank, because life had something much better in store for me.

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Probably the Most Rocking Event of the Year: sTARTUp Day 2016

I was filled with genuine envy as I participated in a conference dedicated to studying entrepreneurship at Aalto University two years ago. I observed the lecturers of Aalto University who spoke one after another, each of them beginning their presentations with their eyes shining. They said: “Yesterday, we had Slush… Didn’t you happen to take part in it?” The sentence was followed by a five-minute-long description of how cool the event had been.

Each year, the event is organized by the students of Aalto University, with over 10,000 participants, including the presidents and prime ministers of various countries, as well as some of the most influential investors and entrepreneurs of the world. Of course, I had never been a part of it. And I was mad at myself – if I had arrived to Helsinki just a day before…

Andres Kuusik

Andres Kuusik. Photo by Kristi Henno

A year later, last October, I finally visited Slush (I’m still under its spell), and it took only a couple of months until I was sure – we need our own Slush.

At the end of last year I took part in four events – the contest of the Vega Fund, “Kaleidoscope” by the Idea Lab, the business plan contest organized by the Center for Creative Industries, and the presentation of Buildit, a business accelerator at the Tartu Science Park. I had realized that there are so many really important and wonderful events happening in Tartu, but no one knows anything about them.

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