Structural measures

Personnel policy and organisational measures

Underneath is a list of personnel policy and organisational measures which can contribute to promote gender equality in an institution. The list is in alphabetical order.

Affirmative action (radical and moderate)

Radical affirmative action: This means that a female applicant is preferred to a more experienced man if she is considered to qualify for the position. Radical affirmative action can be used on a general basis or on a limited basis (for a certain number of positions) until a better gender balance is achieved (for instance 40/60 %). Radical affirmative action is a very controversial measure, and will in many cases probably be difficult to implement, both of political and legal reasons.

Moderate affirmative action: One of the main measures to promote gender equality has since the late 1980s been the rule of so-called moderate affirmative action. This rule is established in the Governmental Basic agreement and reads: “If multiple applicants have approximately the same qualifications, applicants of the gender with less than 40 per cent of employees in the same category of post shall be prioritised. As a rule, affirmative action should not benefit men.”

Counteract bias in favour of men when hiring

The universities have two different ways of counteracting possible bias in favour of men when hiring. The first is guidelines for supervision of appointment procedures by the Gender Equality Ombud or faculty board. The second approach is to demand that faculties report on hiring so that gendered statistics can be made of job applicants, nominees, and persons hired. It is important to counteract informality in the appointment practice, as they tend to be in men’s favour. This includes the occurrence of “informal invites” to apply for positions, and the tailoring of job advertisements to better suit men’s qualifications and experience.

Day care centres

Establish a good programme for child care. This offer can be used in job ads to attract applicants.

Distribution of tasks

Make arrangements so that women are given tasks that both advance their qualifications, and give credit at advancements. Women should also take part in the academic planning both at the institution and at the institute to ensure that female researchers and their areas of interests are not ignored.

Expert databases

Norway and several other European countries have established databases of female scientists. These are useful when searching for a particular scientist or a scientist with specific skills.

Extra time for research fellows after parental leave

Offer an optional addition to the fellowship period after parental leave.

Gender budgeting – follow the cash flow!

Gender budgeting means that political gender equality goals are followed up in budget and report work. This involves looking at the allocation of research budgets to see how disposable assets are divided among men and women with regard to priorities and funds to research and disciplines.

Gender in plans, aims and strategies

The main elements in gender equality efforts must be incorporated in the main plans of the departments. Action plans must be developed on all levels, with annual reports on target figures, measures and results. It is important that the institutions state the reason for their gender equality efforts in order to gather support for their work. The gender equality plans must be specific. Departments must be actively involved in the process and be made responsible by deciding on their own goals and measures. It is also important that new plans and projects are evaluated in relation to the gender equality goals.

International cooperation

Make use of international research contacts to improve the gender balance in tenure, committees, and among guest professors, by encouraging departments to invite foreign female scientists as guest professors and as committee members.

Job advertisement profiles and appointment committees

One frequently used measure for gender balance is the encouragement of women to apply for positions. One can also consider including both male and female contact persons in job ads. Avoid a high degree of specialisation demands when advertising for research fellows and post-doctoral research fellows, so as to increase the number of potential applicants and to avoid an early filtering of the candidates. Focus on attracting women when advertising vacancies in areas with an especially low female ratio. All appointment committees should have female members. This may contribute to the acceptance and nomination of female applicants, and to make the hiring process more transparent. See also moderate gender bias (above).

Management training: Administrative management

Gender awareness and knowledge of gender equality should be included in management training programmes. Qualifications in gender equality can be a criterion when filling management vacancies, and be part of management evaluation.
Read more: When gender equality becomes practice, lecture by Eva Mark at the Network Meeting for gender equality workers in 2006.
Read more: IDAS - a national manager development programme which aims to increase the number of women in senior academic positions at Swedish universities and university colleges.

Preventing sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a sensitive issue within the academic world. However, it has become more visible, and the implementation of ethical guidelines has been a step in the right direction towards a professional handling of such cases. The educational institutions now have a responsibility to prevent and counteract sexual harassment. Today, all universities have ethical guidelines and plans of actions against this problem.


Women are elected to represent their field and institute in public contexts.


Statistics is an important management tool. It is crucial to prepare statistics of the gender balance among job applicants and staff in the different academic positions, distribution of resources to different projects and disciplines, as well as annual salary statistics broken down on position and gender.

Target figures and recruitment plans

Each department develops recruitment plans and specified goals in order to increase the ratio of women in academic positions.

Workplace reviews and career advice

(see Research strategic measures)

Research strategic measures

Here is a list of research strategic measures that can contribute to promote equality in an institution.

Advancement schemes

Between 1987 and 1989 the University of Oslo had an advancement scheme that involved affirmative action of women. 21 women and 11 men were given higher academic positions in this period, and the ratio of female professors at the university increased from approximately 5 % to 10.3 %. In 1993 a national advancement programme was implemented. Today there is gender balance in the number of men and women that are found qualified for professorships after an advancement application process. But as there are still far more male than female applicants for advancements, the uneven gender ratio among professors is upheld. However, with the present advancement programme, the total number of female professors is on the rise.

Assigning teaching duties and administrative tasks

Which tasks an employee has affects his/her chances to qualify for senior positions. On the undergraduate level employees teach more, have a larger number of students, lower status, and get less credit with regard to qualifying for senior positions, than those teaching on a master’s and PhD level. All institutions should look at how they distribute teaching duties, supervision, and other tasks among the employees, and aim to level out any unevenness between them. The institutions should also go over their routines for assigning tasks to staff members.

Management training: Research management

Some institutions have developed a programme to heighten competence among the research management. Gender equality must be an important part of this. The different levels of management must lead the work for gender equality; hence the management needs competence within this field. This also applies to leaders of research projects and research groups. It is also necessary for the institutions to actively recruit potential female managers.

Research groups and research environment

Research groups have a stimulating effect on the research environment. This is important from an equality point of view because a poor research environment is considered to be one of the main reasons why women leave academia. Another barrier to women is that they to a lesser degree than men partake in academic networks. This increases vastly with participation in research groups. Research has shown that heterogeneous research groups are more robust than homogeneous groups (see The Scientist November 7, 2005 and Science vol 309, 2005). One reason is that research groups with people from different backgrounds have a better chance for a broader research perspective. Creativity and innovation have better conditions when research groups consist of a variety of people. Studies also show that establishing research groups increases the flow of post graduate students, and also the publication frequency – especially for women.

Research projects

When institutions set up research projects seeking internal or external funding, it will be wise to ensure that equality is an integrated part of the project. For instance through having an action plan on how to attract female researchers during the project period, or by documenting that female researchers and recruits are already integrated. The Research Council of Norway presented demands for gender equality in its last announcement of CoE. Institutions can present their own research communities with the same demands.

Workplace reviews and career advice

A systematic follow-up of all academic employees is positive to the staff in general and with regard to gender equality. In the workplace reviews the management should address such issues as measures for qualifying for senior positions, and map the employee’s ambitions and work tasks. The management should play an active role when assigning administrative tasks to the staff members. They should also look into which employees have tasks that advances their qualifications. The management should encourage female researchers in mid-level positions to qualify for senior positions through scientific publishing, research stays at Norwegian and foreign institutions, and through introducing them to academic networks.
See also mentor programmes in Specific measures.