New incentive scheme for MST subjects: Seeking more women in top-level academic positions

An incentive scheme launched by the Norwegian Government is designed to boost the percentage of women in top-level academic positions in mathematics, natural science and technology. The money will be used to reward universities and university colleges that succeed in achieving an increase during 2010.

Tora Aasland (Photo: Mari Solerød)

Tora Aasland (Photo: Mari Solerød)

“The gender balance in academia is moving in a positive direction, but it is going too slowly. The Government does not wish to wait for things to take their natural course. The percentage of women among the academic staff is especially low in mathematics, natural science and technology (MST subjects). Something has to be done,” says Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland.

NOK 10 million in funding

In autumn 2009 Minister Aasland promised NOK 10 million in funding for universities and university colleges that employ women at professor and associate professor level. The funds will be distributed among institutions which have relevant academic organisational units and offer doctoral degrees programmes in the MST subjects.

The potential recipients of the funds are therefore the Universities of Oslo, Bergen, Agder and Stavanger as well as the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and Telemark and Gjøvik University Colleges.

Alternative to earmarking

“We have decided that an incentive scheme of this nature is a good alternative to a strict earmarking of academic positions for women,” says Minister Aasland.

“It is a high-priority objective to attract the best qualified candidates to research and education regardless of gender to ensure that the existing expertise is utilised in the best possible way. In the Government’s view it is crucial to work towards an equal distribution of women and men at all academic levels and in all subject areas,” she says.

Source: Women in Science – Norway/ Research Council of Norway

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