Bergen University College receives the Gender Equality Award
“We are very pleased because we have worked systematically to promote gender equality,” says Eli Bergsvik, Rector of Bergen University College.
On 18 January, Bergen University College received the Gender Equality Award for 2010, which was presented by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.
“We still need to strengthen and motivate our institutions, and we hope this award will serve as an inspiration to others,” said Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland when she presented the award. The presentation was held during the annual “Contact Conference” in which representatives from the Ministry of Education and Research meet with leaders from Norway’s universities and university colleges. The award is worth NOK 2 million.
“We have done a good job at making plans and backing them up with action. Our work has taken a long time, but we have done it in small steps,” states a satisfied Eli Bergsvik, Rector of Bergen University College.
Bergen University College has had ambitious plans for their gender-equality activities that have yielded concrete results. In the period from 2007 to 2010, the university college has increased the number of women at the associate professor level by 36 percent, from 37.7 percent in 2007 to 51.5 percent in 2010. The school’s publication statistics are also impressive. Female researchers at the university college accounted for 45 percent of the publication points in 2009, giving the university college one of the highest percentages for publications by female researchers in the sector.
The Ministry of Education and Research presents the Gender Equality Award each year to the higher education institution or research institute with the best measures for improving gender balance in the sector. The objective is to promote active, targeted and systematic gender-equality efforts. The Committee for Gender Balance in Research (the KIF Committee) is responsible for issuing the call for nominations, assessing the candidates and recommending the winner. This is the fourth time the award has been presented.
From words to action
In her remarks, Tora Aasland pointed out that the previous award winners have continued to pursue their efforts to promote gender equality.
“Last year’s winner, the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, has set clear targets for new recruitment of women, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this year’s winner will use the prize money,” the minister said.
According to the jury’s assessment, Bergen University College demonstrates an “action-oriented, well-considered approach to the issue of gender equality”. As an example, the jury points out that the university college takes women’s career opportunities into account when establishing master’s programmes in female-dominated fields. The jury also mentions that the university college integrates gender-equality activities into its usual routines, such as in its general teacher education programme. In addition, the university college receives praise for taking a comprehensive approach to its gender-equality efforts and for being “serious when it comes to translating words into action”. The jury also points out a future challenge – that is, Bergen University College should work to increase the percentage of women at the professor level. Rector Bergsvik has promised to follow up on this.
“We have awarded grants to three women to support their efforts to obtain qualifications at the professor level,” she says.
The objective of this grant is that these women will qualify for professorships within the next two years. The three recipients are researchers in the areas of children’s literature, early childhood education and the health sciences.
Translated by Connie Stultz.