“Excited about what we can accomplish”

“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).

Launched in 2004, the Kif committee has now completed two terms. The third committee has been appointed to serve from 1 April 2010 to 31 December 2013, and has changed its name from the Committee for Mainstreaming – Women in Science to the Committee for Gender Balance in Research.

“The Kif committee has done a great deal to increase knowledge about the status of gender equality in research and to draw attention to measures that have a positive impact. The committee provides inspiration to the institutions and works in cooperation with them, and it has helped to move the issue of gender equality higher up on the agenda. The ministry wants the committee to continue this important work,” said Minister Tora Aasland in a press release.

Professor Gerd Bjørhovde of the University of Tromsø will continue to serve as the chairperson of the new Kif committee. The other committee members who will continue are Kjell Bratbergsengen, Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU);  Ernst Kristiansen, Executive Vice President of SINTEF; and Eva Skærbæk, Associate Professor at Østfold University College. The new members are Elisabet Ljunggren Senior Researcher at the Nordland Research Institute; Finn Nortvedt, Associate Professor and Head of Studies at Oslo University College; Jesper Simonsen, Director of the Department for Global Issues at the Research Council of Norway; and Karen O. Golmen of the National Union of Students in Norway.

Looking forward to making a difference

Newcomer Elisabet Ljunggren is eager to see what the committee can accomplish during its term, and hopes she can make a positive contribution.

Elisabet Ljunggren expects her work on the Kif committee to be exciting. (Photo: Nordland Research Institute)

I have conducted research on trade and industry, gender, entrepreneurship and innovation. I know how important it is to focus on gender and gender equality in the business sector, and it is just as important to have this same focus in the research sector,” she emphasizes.

At the Nordland Research Institute, where Ljunggren works, women are actually in the majority, but the situation is quite different in other places.

“The challenges in the field of gender equality vary between the research institute sector, the university college sector and the university sector. There are also differences within the sectors. By the same token, there will always be some challenges shared by everyone,” she says.

“It will be interesting to learn more about the Kif committee’s work so far, its mandate and the resources it has at its disposal,” says Ljunggren.

Determined to press on

Gerd Bjørhovde is ready for a new term as chairperson of the Kif committee.

“We must continue the efforts we have started. It’s no use giving up because things take time. I see changes taking place, and this gives me the determination to keep up our work,” she says.

She has seen top-level administrators at the institutions increase their involvement in gender equality efforts in recent years. At a number of institutions the leaders have been made responsible for addressing gender equality issues, and many of them now work more systematically with this area. She also believes that it is has become embarrassing for the institutions to have poor gender equality numbers.

“And this is a crucial point. It is not the committee’s responsibility to implement gender equality efforts in the research sector, but rather to motivate others to do so. The goal is to ensure that key players such as the research institutions, the Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) and the Ministry of Education and Research establish working methods that promote gender balance,” explains Bjørhovde.

Translated by Connie Stultz.