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The Research Council of Norway is planning a large-scale initiative to increase the recruitment of women to high-level positions and research management.
By changing the name to the Committee for Gender Balance in Research, the KIF Committee has received a stricter mandate for its work. “This sends a signal that gender equality involves more than equal rights,” says Mari Teigen, Research Director at the Institute for Social Research (ISF).
A lack of professional leadership is an obstacle to achieving gender equality in academia, according to Curt Rice, Vice Rector at the University of Tromsø. He is calling for stronger leadership and new ways of working. His first priority is to ensure that more women reach the top.
Talent at stake. Changing the culture of research – gender-sensitive leadership is designed to inspire everyone who wants to do something to increase diversity and promote greater gender balance within the research sector.
In order to achieve gender equality, we must change the structures in academia. This requires a systematic effort in which the top-level administration at each institution takes active part, according to Linda Marie Rustad, Senior Adviser for the Committee for Gender Balance in Research (KIF).
“It is more important for the universities to become adept at marketing the engineering sciences to women rather than designing measures such as gender points to increase their numbers,” says Svandis Benediktsdottir, Gender Equality Adviser at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
In March, the Norwegian Nurses Organisation voiced its support for giving gender points to men who want to become nurses. Now the Ministry of Education and Research has given its response: There are no plans at this time to introduce such a measure.
Gender will no longer count when students are admitted to Swedish universities and university colleges. Sweden’s Minister for Higher Education and Research Tobias Krantz says that preferential treatment based on gender has hit talented female students especially hard.
Four of the five women who took part in the promotion course at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 2008 were promoted to full professor this year. May Thorseth is one of them.
Luisa Prista of the European Commission does not want to “fix” female researchers. It is the institutions and research system that need to be changed, she believes. Her goal is that the Member States will be mobilized to care about gender equality in research.
Women are taking over the universities, according to the newspapers. But just because the majority of students are women, does this necessarily mean that women will eventually dominate the academic disciplines?
In just a few short years, they saw the number of women in permanent academic positions go from zero to four. Three of them are now professors. “We needed to strengthen our department and realized that the measures established by the central administration held great potential,” explains Jan-Eirik Angell Killie of the Norwegian College of Fishery Science.
“The Kif committee does a crucial job. It will be exciting to serve on it,” says Elisabet Ljunggren, Senior Researcher at the Nordland Research Institute. Ljunggren is one of the members of the new Committee for Gender Balance in Research (the Kif committee).
Women in academia publish 21 per cent less than their male colleagues, and this figure has been stable for nearly 20 years. A new master’s thesis takes a look behind the numbers.
“We now have a unique historical opportunity to do something about the gender imbalance in Norwegian research,” says Professor Hanne Haavind, who has recruiting advice for leaders who want to seize the day.
New academic perspectives pave the way for a greater number of women to participate in the discipline, according to Professor of Theology Halvor Moxnes. He has worked hard for the inclusion of gender perspectives in theology, and believes that this is important for the recruitment of female researchers.
“A very surprising and generous recognition of our efforts to promote gender equality,” says Rector Sigmund Loland.
The percentage of women in top-level academic positions in mathematics, natural science and technology must increase. This is according to the Norwegian Government, which has now set aside NOK 10 million to speed up the process. The money will be used to reward universities and university colleges that raise the percentage of female academic staff during 2010.
“It’s possible for women to be managers in male-dominated research fields. Just come to SINTEF and see for yourself,” says Marie-Laure Olivier. She should know what she is talking about. Marie-Laure has always been surrounded by men.
All the fuss about recruitment destroys young women’s interest in natural science, according to educational researcher Guðrún Jónsdóttir.