In addition to my work as a professor at the University of Tromsø, I have three other roles that are closely related to the work on this website. I was elected by the permanent faculty to sit on the university board, I lead Norway’s Committee on Gender Balance in Research, and I am the head of the Board for Current Research Information System in Norway (CRIStin). In all of these roles, I work to pursue my conviction that research and education are essential to improving society, and that making universities better therefore has the potential to make societies better.
I’m currently writing a book on gender balance. Why do men and women have different career paths? Why should we care? How can we start to make things better? Why is improving gender balance not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do? For a taste of my approach, grab a copy of my free ebook on gender equality.
Beyond this book project, I use my speaking and writing engagements to reach audiences on the topics that excite me the most: gender balance, open access, leadership issues and more. These interests have grown during the past decade while I’ve had the privilege to occupy what were then two brand new leadership positions at the University of Tromsø.
For specific queries, you can contact me directly here.
From 2009–2013, I served as the elected Vice Rector for Research & Development (prorektor for forskning og utvikling). Before that, from 2002–2008, I was the founding director of my university’s first Norwegian Center of Excellence, the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL). Given the luxury of being able to define those positions, I was able to pursue my passion for improving academic life by working to enhance conditions for education and research.
I’m part of the European Science Foundation’s genderSTE COST action (Gender, Science, Technology and Environment); I helped create the BALANSE program at the Research Council of Norway, which is designed to increase the numbers of women at the highest levels of research organizations. I am on the Advisory Board of the European Commission project EGERA (Effective Gender Equality in Research and Academia); I was on the Science Leaders Panel of the genSET project, in which we advised the European Commission about gender in science. I also led a national task force on research-based education that issued many suggestions for Norwegian institutions.
I also created the crowd-sourced alternative contest to the European Commission’s Science: It’s a girl thing! teaser video (and was co-sponsored in doing so by the European Science Foundation and Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt); see the results here!
Science in Balance
While working towards the re-launch of my blog in August, 2014, I wanted to find the theme that could bring it all together. That led to the birth of Science in Balance as a tagline for my work. The notion of balance was an obvious starting point, given my work on gender equality, where I in fact often instead talk about gender balance. But then I realized that much of the work I’m doing is about balance.
When I write about open access or other aspects of publishing, it’s because our approach to communicating scientific results within the scientific community is falling down; we have serious problems with peer review, impact factors, retraction rates, and the use of bibliometrics as a foundation for policy. When it comes to the broader topic of leadership, I also believe that universities are a bit out of kilter; we haven’t come to fully appreciate what good leadership might mean or how it could be practiced and thereby improve the conditions for education and research.
In all of these areas — gender equality, communication of scientific results, and leadership more generally — I hope to contribute to making universities better at delivering on their promise to society by moving towards a state of balance. Bear in mind, however, that the quest for balance is not a quest for immobility or the end of change. On the contrary, movement is essential for getting balance back. Think of a bicycle; think of a spinning top. It’s movement that delivers balance, and when things slow down, they eventually fall over. So Science in Balance is a place for conversations about movement — especially about moving universities forward — and it’s a place for discussions about balance and how we might get there.
Photo credit (spinning top): Cal Rice