State Secretary praises the new Diversity Report
The Diversity Report has finally been launched, and the Ministry of Education and Research is pleased with the result.
Last year the KIF Committee commissioned a study of careers and barriers for ethnic minorities. Now the report “It’s not an advantage to be a foreigner” – Career pathways and barriers for immigrants in Norwegian academia (in Norwegian only) from the Work Research Institute and the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) is finished.
The report was presented at a seminar on 11 March 2016, and State Secretary Bjørn Haugstad of the Ministry of Education and Research was one of the keynote speakers at the kick-off seminar.
Gender and ethnicity are important
Haugstad thanked the KIF Committee for taking the initiative to commission the study. Although academic staff with an immigrant background are few in number, the State Secretary emphasized it is critical to have knowledge about ethnic minorities in academia.
“I view this report as an initial response to the KIF Committee’s new, expanded mandate. The report documents the wisdom of the Ministry’s decision to expand the mandate on gender to include ethnicity as well,” he said.
Haugstad spoke of the major social changes occurring recently in Norway and Europe, with the refugee crisis and greater pressure on Norwegian educational institutions.
“However, it’s frustrating that we know so little about how immigrants’ expertise is being used. The same applies to the other Nordic countries. They also lack knowledge about ethnic minorities,” says Haugstad.
“Re-use the arguments for better gender balance!”
Curt Rice, Chair of the KIF Committee, and State Secretary Bjørn Haugstad both agree that the same arguments used to increase the proportion of women in academia can also be used for immigrants and ethnic minorities.
“We need talented individuals in research. We must tear down barriers. Academia cannot tolerate negative attitudes, and of course discrimination is morally repugnant,” said Haugstad.
“An aim of this Government is to enhance the quality of higher quality. Therefore, we must ensure that recruitment is fair and that the best person gets the job. The assessment criteria must be the subject of ongoing discussion,” he continued.
Statistics on ethnicity are coming
The KIF Committee has been requesting more knowledge and better statistics on ethnic minorities in the research sector for a long time. Now the State Secretary can report that Statistics Norway and NIFU have begun preparing these statistics on commission from the Ministry of Education and Research.
“We would like to have figures on country of birth, gender, job title, academic background and more. In the US and the UK, countries with highly diverse populations, it’s less provocative to ask about ethnic background than it is in Norway, but I hope the KIF Committee can help to demystify this.”
“I’m pleased, though, that we have a report like this, despite the lack of data,” said Haugstad.
Translated by Connie Stultz.