Individual measures are not enough to achieve gender equality in academia.

In order to achieve gender equality, we must change the structures in academia. This requires a systematic effort in which the top-level administration at each institution takes active part, according to Linda Marie Rustad, Senior Adviser for the Committee for Gender Balance in Research (KIF).

“The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences is a shining example of how gender equality efforts should be conducted. Since its establishment in 1968, the school has worked systematically to achieve gender balance among its students and staff. The Rector chairs the gender equality committee, which bases its activities on concrete target figures, and the committee has effective routines for reporting to the board on the action plan for gender equality,” says Rustad.

As a result, the top-level administration is clear about the major gender-equality challenges facing the school, and they can work in a more systematic manner, she believes.

“The school has also made an effort to focus on the connection between gender perspectives in research and the recruitment of women. They now have a large percentage of female professors and considerable expertise in gender research in their discipline.”

The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences received the Gender Equality Award in 2009 from the Ministry of Education and Research. The award is given to an institution in the research sector that has introduced active, targeted, systematic activities to promote gender equality and that has taken significant steps to increase the percentage of women in academic positions.

“The institutions need leaders who demand results in addition to those who do the handson work. An effective internal organisation is required in order to successfully implement gender equality activities,” says Rustad.

Players at all levels

The Committee for Gender Balance in Research (KIF) is appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and is charged with the task of supporting the efforts to achieve gender equality in the research sector. The committee’s mandate is to mainstream the topic and raise the level of knowledge about what gender equality entails.

“We work on three different levels: vis-à-vis national strategies and national stakeholders, vis-à-vis the top-level administration at the individual institutions and vis-à-vis those responsible for the gender equality activities at the institutions. For instance, we look at whether the rectors adopt the Government’s recommendations and whether they actually implement their own action plans. We also organise meeting places, such as seminars, conferences and networks, that bring together these various levels,” says Rustad.

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