Statistics on gender balance and diversity

This page contains statistics on gender balance and diversity in higher education and in the research sector in Norway. Statistics on science and teaching, research and development (R&D statistics) in Norway is compiled every other year. Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) is responsible for statistics on the academic sector, while Statistics Norway (SSB) is responsible for collecting data from the business sector.

Gender balance in scientific positions in 2017

  • In 2017 the share of women among full professors in the sector was about 29.2 per cent. The share of female professors has increased with about 1 percentage point every year the last ten years.
  • Among PhD-candidates there were 53 per cent women. 
  • Among associate professors there were 47.5 per cent women, 52.5 per cent men.

NIFU: R&D Statistics Bank
Ministry of Education: The government’s status report for higher education

PhDs: Key figures

  • 1 485 persons defended their PhD-dissertation at Norwegian universities and university colleges in 2017. This is 75 more than in 2016 and 39 fewer than in 2013, the latter year being the one with most PhD-graduations ever. 
  • In 2017 745 of the PhD graduates were men, while 740 were women. Altogether the dispersion between women and men among PhD graduates has been completely balanced during the last three years.
  • 2014 was the first year when more women than men graduated at doctorate level, even though there had been more female than male PhD candidates for several years.
  • 37 per cent of the PhDs in the first half of 2017 were completed by foreign citizens.

PhDs in 2016: subject field, gender and citizenship

  • Female PhD graduates are in majority in the two largest subject fields: medical sciences and the social sciences. However, within the social sciences the share of female PhD graduates fell from 62 percentage points in 2015 to 52 percentage points in 2016.
  • The share of men is particularly high within technology and mathematics/natural sciences. In 2016 female PhDs accounted for only 20 and 37 per cent of the completed graduations within these fields respectively.
  • At the same time, more men obtained their PhD within subject fields in which women have been in majority. This is particularly the case for the social sciences, where the share of male PhD graduates were the highest ever in 2016.
  • 532 of the PhD graduates were of foreign origin in 2016.  This is 20 less than 2013, the year with most PhD graduates with foreign citizenship. Given that the total number of PhD graduations decreased in 2016, the share of foreign citizens receiving their PhD became the highest ever (38%).
  • Half of the foreign PhD graduates were from Europe. Further, 30% were from Asia, 13% from Africa and 9% from the American continent.

NIFU, NIFU: Doktorgrader i tall  (newsletter in Norwegian)
NIFU, Doctoral Degrees Register in Norway

Statistics on diversity

The statistics on diversity is the first extensive overview on the role of immigrants and descendents of immigrants in higher education and the research sector. So far, it has been compiled for the years 2007, 2010 and 2014. The statistics is a cooperative project between the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and Statistics Norway (SSB). The diversity statistics is compiled on request from the Ministry of Education.

Among other findings, the diversity statistics show that the share of research & development personnel (R&D) with an immigrant background has increased from 14 to 20 percentage points in the period from 2007 to 2014.

Sources (in Norwegian only):
Mangfoldstatistikk. Statistikk om innvandrere og etterkommere av innvandrere i norsk forskning og høyere utdanning (NIFU arbeidsnotat 2016: 17)
Mer mangfoldsstatistikk (NIFU arbeidsnotat 2017:4)

In English:
Being a foreigner is no advantage. Career paths and barriers for immigrants in Norwegian academia
Study conducted by NIFU in collaboration with the Work Research Institute (AFI) (2016)

R&D personnel

  • In 2015 there were a total of 24 604 people employed as research and development (R&D) personnel at Norwegian universities and university colleges. Among these there were 11 709 women and 12 895 men.
  • In 2015 the universities and university colleges had a total of 13 179 persons employed in permanent academic positions. Of these we find 5 678 women and 7 024 men.
  • 5785 persons were employed as other personnel within the academic sector in 2015. These include doctors working at university hospitals, research fellows, people employed in postdoc-positions and others.


In the academic year 2015/16, the total number of students enrolled in higher education in Norway and Norwegian students studying abroad was 288 989, an increase of 5874 students from the year before. The comparable increase from 2014 to 2015 was 10 600 students.

A total of 46 681 degrees were completed at Norwegian universities and colleges in the academic year 2015/2016. Women completed 61 per cent or almost two thirds of these.

In 2016 35 per cent of Norwegians aged between 19 to 24 years were students. 28 per cent were men and 43 per cent women.  

13 per cent of Norwegian students in 2016 were had an immigrant background. This is an increase of about 4 per cent from 2007.

The trend for a number of years has been for more women than men to graduate at both undergraduate and graduate level. For the first time in 2014/15, more women than men also graduated at doctorate level. Women accounted for 63 per cent of the 31 100 graduations at undergraduate level, and 57 per cent of the 13 300 graduations at graduate level.

In 2015, nearly 80 per cent of the students within health, welfare and sport were women.

For new students younger than 25 years in 2007, 69 per cent of the men and 79 of the women completed a degree within eight years. For new students aged 25 years and older in 2007, 35 per cent of the men and 44 per cent of the women completed a degree within eight years.

6 out of 10 students abroad are women
More than 70 per cent of the 16 700 students abroad in 2015 studied in the UK (4 950), Denmark (2 900), USA (1 900), Poland (1 600) and Hungary (1 000). Among all students abroad, more than 60 per cent were women.

Statistics Norway:
Students at universities and university colleges, 5 April 2017
Credit points and graduations from universities and colleges, 2015/2016
Throughput of students in tertiary education, 2014/2015

More figures

Statistics and indicators for the research system are presented by The Research Council of Norway in Report on Science & Technology Indicators for Norway.


More statistics

NIFU Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education develops and presents statistics from the higher education and research sector. You can find more statistics on their web site.

See also education statistics and gender equality statistics from Statistics Norway.