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.
Here you will find statistics on: 

Gender balance in scientific positions

  • In 2020 the share of women among full professors in the sector was 33,5 per cent (32 per cent in 2019).
  • If we split professors into “research-oriented career path” and “teaching-oriented career path” the share of female professors with research oriented career path in the sector was 33 per cent. Among professors with a teaching-oriented career path (docents) the share of women was 43 per cent. 
  • Among PhD-candidates there were 54 per cent women in 2020 (54 per cent women in 2019). 
  • Gender balance among associate professors in 2020: 50 per cent were women and 50 per cent were men. 
NIFU: R&D Statistics Bank

Diku – the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education: Status report for higher education 2021 (in Norwegian)

PhDs: Key figures

  • 1634 persons defended their PhD-dissertation at Norwegian universities and university colleges in 2020. This is 51 more than in 2019.
  • Gender balance in 2020: 808 of the PhD graduates were men and 826 were women. 51 per cent of the graduates 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.

PhDs: subject field, gender and citizenship

  • The increase in PHD graduates in 2020 are in Medical and Health sciences.
  • 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 2020.
  • The share of men is particularly high within technology and mathematics/natural sciences. In 2020 male PhDs accounted for 60 and 74 per cent of the completed graduations within these fields respectively.
  • 978 with Norwegian citizenship graduated in 2020, an increase from 934 in 2019.
  • 40 per cent of the PhD graduates were of foreign origin in 2020. 
  • In 2020 the share of PhDs with foreign citizenship is highest 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, 2014 and 2018. The statistics is a cooperative project between the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and Statistics Norway (SSB). More about the statistics on NIFU here 

Statistics on Diversity in Research (2018):

  • In 2018, 29 per cent of the researchers and academic staff at Norwegian universities, university colleges, health trusts and research institutes had an immigrant background. 
  • The majority of the immigrant researchers, about 80 per cent, are internationally mobile researchers, who come to Norway with a higher education degree, and several also with a PhD degree.
  • Descendants accounted for 0.5 per cent of researchers in 2018, compared with 0.4 per cent in 2007. 
  • In 2018, descendants of immigrants accounted for 1.2 per cent both of all employees in Norway and 3.6 per cent of students. 
  • Of the 190 descendants of immigrants among the researchers in 2018, about 40 were employed in permanent positions (tenure), including physicians who participate in R&D at the health trusts and researchers in the institute sector. The other 150 were employed in temporary research positions or recruitment positions.
  • There has been a major change in where the postdocs are recruited from: The number of male postdocs from Asia, Turkey, Africa, Latin America, Europe (excl. EU/EFTA), Oceania (excl. Australia and New Zealand) has more than tripled between 2007 and 2018, and the number of women from these regions is more than four times as high.
  • Women accounted for 44 per cent of the researchers with an immigrant or descendent of immigrant background in 2018. Among other researchers, the female share was 50 per cent.
  • The highest share of immigrants and descendants of immigrants were in postdocs in the higher education sector (59 per cent), postdocs in the institute sector and research fellows in the higher education sector (42 per cent).
  • Nearly half of the researchers in temporary positons have an immigrant background (48 per cent). 
  • Medical and health sciences, technology and engineering and natural sciences had the highest number of immigrants and descendants of immigrants amongtheir researchers and academic staff in 2018.
  • The proportion of immigrants and descendants of immigrants among women has been significantly higher than the equivalent for men in natural sciences in the last years.  

Read: 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)

Higher education

  • In 2020 37,8 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 306 367, an increase of 10 185 students from the year before.
  • Just below 40 per cent male and slightly more than 60 per cent female completed higher education in 2020.
  • In 2020 6 out of 10 students abroad were women. 26 per cent of the 13 500 students abroad in 2020 studied in the UK, 16 per cent studied in Denmark, 12 per cent in Poland, 10 per cent in USA and 5 per cent Hungary. 
  • 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 2020 resident immigrant students (included Norwegian-born to immigrant parents) accounted for 15, 3 per cent of the proportion 19-24 year-olds in higher education.  
  • In 2020 immigrants accounted for 11 per cent of students in higher education, the same as in 2019. Over a period of time, there has been a significant increase from 6 per cent in 2003 to 11 per cent in 2020.

Credits and graduations from higher education

  • In 2020, 60 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.
  • In 2019/2020, 51 per cent of doctoral study graduates were male, while 57 per cent of the master’s programmes graduates were female. 73 per cent of professional programmes were attained by 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 2021 (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.