Statistics on gender balance and diversity

(Illustration: iStockphoto)
Are you interested in statistics on gender balance and diversity in higher education and in the research sector in Norway? This page contains statistics from Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU), which is responsible for statistics on the academic sector, and from Statistics Norway (SSB), which is responsible for collecting data from the business sector. The statistics will be continuously updated.

Gender balance in scientific positions

  • In 2019 the share of women among full professors in the sector was 32 per cent (31,1 per cent in 2018).
  • If we split professors into “research-oriented career path” and “teaching-oriented career path” the share of professors with research oriented career path in the sector was 4280 in 2019, and among these 32 per cent were women. Among professors with a teaching-oriented career path (docents) the total amount was 190, where 43 per cent of the share were women
  • Among PhD-candidates there were 54 per cent women in 2019 (54 per cent women in 2018). 
  • Among associate professors there were 52 per cent men and 48 per cent women in 2019.

NIFU: R&D Statistics Bank
Diku – the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education: Status report for higher education 2020 (in Norwegian) Status report for higher education 2019 (in Norwegian)

PhDs: Key figures

  • 1 583 persons defended their PhD-dissertation at Norwegian universities and university colleges in 2019. This is 19 more than in 2018.
  • Gender balance in 2019: 793 of the PhD graduates were men and 790 were women. In 2018 782 of the PhD graduates were men, while 782 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.
  • 40 per cent of the PhDs in 2019 were completed by foreign citizens.

PhDs: subject field, gender and citizenship

  • Female PhD graduates are in majority in the subject fields medical sciences, social sciences and the humanities. In these fields 60 per cent of the PhD graduates were female in 2019.
  • The share of men is particularly high within technology and mathematics/natural sciences. In 2019 male PhDs accounted for 60 and 74 per cent of the completed graduations within these fields respectively.
  • 40 per cent of the PhD graduates were of foreign origin in 2019. 
  • In 2019 the share of PhDs with foreign citizenship increased the most within technology and natural sciences.
  • 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: PhDs and 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.

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)

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)

Higher education

I 2019 35,8 per cent of 19-24-year-olds were in higher education. 

The total number of students enrolled in higher education in Norway and Norwegian students studying abroad was 296 182 in 2019, an increase of 2895 students from the year before.

Just below 40 per cent male and slightly more than 60 per cent female completed higher education in the academic year 2018/2019.

In 2019 immigrants accounted for 11 per cent of students in higher education, the same as in 2018. Over a period of time, there has been a significant increase from 6 per cent in 2003 to 11 per cent in 2019.

If we compare immigrants between the age of 19 and 34 with the rest of the population, there is a lower share represented in higher education. In contrast, Norwegian-born to immigrant parents have a higher share represented in higher education than the rest of the population.
While there is a high share of immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), there is a low share of immigrants represented in the teacher educations in Norway.
In 2019, 61 percent of female in regular full-time studies at universities and colleges took at least 60 credits, while 54 percent of male took the same amount of credits.
The proportion of women with a master or doctoral degree is almost as big as the proportion of men with the same education.
In 2018/2019, 50.7 per cent of doctoral study graduates were male, while 57 per cent of the master’s programmes graduates were female. 70.2 % of professional programmes were attained by women. 
In 2017 6 out of 10 students abroad were women. 27 per cent of the 15 486 students abroad in 2017 studied in the UK, 15 per cent studied in Denmark, 11 per cent in USA, 10 per cent in Poland and 6 per cent Hungary. Among all students abroad, more than 60 per cent were women.

For new students in higher education in 2010, 66 per cent completed a degree within eight years. 61 per cent of the male students finished within eight years, while 70 per cent of the women did the same. 


Statistics Norway:
Students in higher education
Credits and graduations from higher education
Completion rates of students in higher education

Diku – the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education: Status report for higher education 2020 (in Norwegian)

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 2019 (in Norwegian).


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.