Women academics stymied by X-factor?

(Illustration: Colourbox)

When the percentage of women and men at the various rungs of the Norwegian academic career ladder is depicted in a diagram, the figure resembles an X. The Research Council of Norway will now implement measures to give more women a chance to overcome this mysterious X-factor.

More women than men in Norway today are pursuing a higher education. Women comprise 46 per cent of those taking a doctoral degree, and the gender distribution is fairly equal in most subject areas.

In the social sciences and medical/health sciences, the percentage of Ph.D. students who are women is now over 50 per cent. In fact, the percentage of women has increased dramatically in all subject areas in the past 30 years.

In the past 10 years, the percentage of women in post-doctoral research positions has also been consistently high (42 to 49 per cent).

Despite the solid recruitment base, there is still a significant imbalance between the genders in senior scientific positions and research management. Today 78 per cent of university professors are men, and change in the direction of better gender balance is moving very slowly.

This is one of the findings presented in the recent report entitled “Women’s and men’s career cycle in Norwegian research” (NIFU Report 9/2012, in Norwegian only), prepared by the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) on commission from the Research Council.

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