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 29.5 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 52.5 per cent men and 47.5 per cent women.

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

PhDs: Key figures

  • 1 493 persons defended their PhD-dissertation at Norwegian universities and university colleges in 2017. This is 80 more than in 2016 and 31 fewer than in 2013, the latter year being the one with most PhD-graduations ever. 
  • In 2017 743 of the PhD graduates were men, while 750 were women. Altogether the dispersion between women and men among PhD graduates has been completely balanced since 2012.
  • 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.
  • 39 per cent of the PhDs in 2017 were completed by foreign citizens.

PhDs 2015-2017: 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 male PhD graduates was the highest ever in 2016.
  • The share of men is particularly high within technology and mathematics/natural sciences. In 2017 female PhDs accounted for 29,4 and 39,4 per cent of the completed graduations within these fields respectively. This is an increase of 9.8 percentage points within technology subjects and 2.4 percentage points in mathematics/natural sciences since 2016.
  • 581 of the PhD graduates were of foreign origin in 2017. That is the highest number of PhD graduates of foreign origin ever.  
  • In 2017 the share of PhDs with foreign citizenship was highest within technology subjects (65 per cent).
  • In 2017 54 per cent of the foreign PhD graduates were from Europe, 27 per cent were from Asia, 10 per cent from Africa and 8 per cent 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 2017, the total number of students enrolled in higher education in Norway and Norwegian students studying abroad was 293 123, an increase of 4134 students from the year before. The number includes students between the age of 19 and 24. The comparable increase from 2014 to 2015 was 10 600 students.

A total of 51 000  degrees were completed at Norwegian universities and colleges in the academic year 2016/2017. Women completed 59,8 per cent of these.

In 2017 35,4 per cent of Norwegians aged between 19 to 24 years were students. 28,4 per cent were men and 42,9 per cent women.  

14 per cent of Norwegian students in 2017 had an immigrant background. This is an increase of about 5 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.

In 2017, women accounted for 59,9 per cent of the 51 000 graduations.

The proportion of women who completed an education in the academic year 2016/17 was biggest within health, welfare and sports subjects (29.6 per cent). This also applies to the proportion of female immigrants (25.5 per cent) and Norwegian-born women with immigrant parents.

The proportion of men who completed an education in the academic year 2016/17 was biggest in the natural sciences, craft and technical subjects (32.5 per cent). Among immigrants there were 44.4 per cent who completed within these fields of study. The proportion was 32.2 per cent among Norwegian-born men with immigrant parents.

For new students in 2009, 66 per cent completed a degree within eight years. 19 658 of them were men, and 26,794 women. 

6 out of 10 students abroad are women
27 per cent of the 15 486 students abroad in 2017 studied in the UK (4 197), 15 per cent studied in Denmark (2 341), 11 percent in USA (1 717), 10 per cent in Poland (1 535) and 6 per cent Hungary (916). Among all students abroad, more than 60 per cent were women.


Ministry of Education: The government’s status report for higher education
Statistics Norway:

Students in higher education
Credits and graduations from higher education 2016/2017
Completion rates of students in higher education

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.