Gender in many subjects

Last year’s winner of the Gender Equality Award was UiT, represented by Rector Jarle Aarbakke. The award was presented by former Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland. (Photo: Kristin Aukland)

“We are now putting more emphasis on the gender perspective in research and education,” says Vice Rector Curt Rice. After several years of working with gender equality in the personnel area, the University of Tromsø is directing its gender equality efforts towards the research itself.

“We received the award for one project; now we will use the prize money on another project. We will never be done working for gender equality: When we have made progress in one area, there are other areas that still need work,” says Curt Rice, Vice Rector at the University of Tromsø (UiT).

Last year UiT received the Gender Equality Award totalling NOK 2 million. The award has now been announced for the sixth consecutive year, and Norwegian universities, university colleges and research institutes are encouraged to apply.

Long-term job

UiT was one of only three institutions that applied for the Gender Equality Award for 2011, which was presented by the Ministry of Education and Research. However, the small number of applicants did not undermine the quality of the winner, according to the Committee for Gender Balance in Research (the KIF Committee) which assessed the applicants and recommended the prize winner.

The KIF Committee stated the following about its assessment of UiT’s efforts to promote gender equality:

By virtue of its robust efforts to improve the gender balance in high-level positions, the University of Tromsø has distinguished itself as one of Norway’s key players in the field of gender equality.

Rice says that UiT’s work to improve the gender balance has been a long-term process. Before launching the new measures – such as the “promotion project” which helps women in associate professor and senior lecturer positions to qualify for full professorships – UiT did not fare well in national statistics on gender distribution at the universities.

In 2001, the university was the worst in the class with about nine percent of women in professor positions. Now UiT is close to achieving a gender distribution among full professors of 70 percent men and 30 percent women – the largest percentage of women among Norway’s eight universities.

“The Centre for Women’s and Gender Research (KVINNFORSK) is also a part of UiT’s initiative on gender equality, and part of its mandate is to increase awareness about gender. KVINNFORSK has achieved this,” says Rice.

“And the prize money has given us the opportunity to take our gender equality efforts a step further,” he says.

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