With focus and commitment, the University of Tromsø has become Norway’s leading university for gender balance. New statistics have arrived and they reveal that 27.4% of our full professors are women.
Tromsø is better than any other institution of higher education in Norway, and it is well ahead of the national average of 23%.
The Board of the University has articulated a goal of having 30% of our highest academic positions occupied by women by the end of 2013. Our progress has been steady and salient. In 2007, 18.3% of our professors were women. In 2008, it was 20.1%. At the end of 2009, we had reached 22.4% and last year we were at 24.6%. Today, we have reached 27.4%!
This progress reflects major investments in faculty development.
We have acknowledged that structural impediments are part of the reason that fewer women than men reach the rank of full professor. As a consequence, we work to reduce the impact of those impediments with women who are currently in the system, and we work to change the system so that the impediments will be eliminated for future generations.
The University of Tromsø has used a wide variety of measures to feed the progress we are reporting today. We have deliberately hired a number of women into Affiliated Professor positions (a Norwegian supplemental 20% position with the title Professor-II); one effect of this is to increase the number of female role models at this level, and we have also recruited from this pool to 100% positions.
We have made extensive use of mentor programs. Several women in Associate Professor positions have had an extra semester of sabbatical as they approach the homestretch for applying for promotion. The advancement of women has been promoted by the top level of leadership at the university for many years. In short, we have made the promotion of women a priority.
However, we have not yet reached our goal of 30% — and after 2013, the bar must be raised. We continue with new and creative measures that will push us towards success. One of our most important current efforts is called The Promotion Project, in which we work deliberately with women in Associate Professor positions to identify and facilitate the achievements necessary for promotion.
The University of Tromsø was the first university to adopt the recommendations submitted by the genSET project to the European Commission. Implementing the 13 recommendations in the genSET report will make significant contributions as we move towards true gender parity at the top of the academic ladder.
Our work at the University of Tromsø has been discussed in Science, Nature and The Lancet. It has piqued the interest of the European Commission and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. There is, in other words, broad international interest in the problems that women face in academic careers, and in measures that can be taken to solve those problems.
It is possible to create a more fair system. Change can be achieved. With focus and commitment, universities can become better workplaces — workplaces with higher qualifications and with the conditions necessary to accomplish even more.
Today, the northernmost university in the world has shown that this is possible.
Because we are marking a milestone today, I’ll allow myself to mention that this blog includes many entries about the importance of gender balance for quality in organizations, entries about strategies for achieving gender balance, and entries about reasons deliberate action is necessary. Key articles include those listed below.
The comment sections are open — please tell your story, please add your voice to the discussion!
The promotion project: Getting more women professors (If you’re looking for a concrete description of a process that works, this is the most important thing you can read. Check it out, and if you’re interested, send me a note and I’ll come help you put it into action where you are!)