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Action plan for diversity and gender equality – with an emphasis on action

A consultation on draft version of AU’s new Action plan for diversity and gender equality at AU 2020-2021 is now in progress at the university. The action plan is expected to be finalised after the summer holiday.

2020.05.07 | Anders Hylander

The draft was developed by AU’s Committee for Diversity and Gender Equality. The committee is made up of representatives from the faculty, and is co-chaired by the rector and the pro-rector. The action plan identifies four main areas which the university will focus on in the coming year:

  • Recruitment
  • Career development
  • Leadership
  • Workplace culture

“We selected these areas because they cover the most important facets in terms of working with diversity and gender equality. On the background of these areas, we have identified the concrete activities at the core of the action plan. The committee’s intention is for the action plan to create broad engagement and motivation across the university,” Pro-rector Eika said.

The action plan contains eleven concrete activities. Examples include a greater focus on equality in the university’s norms for recruitment, offering more systematic career development support, including increased diversity and gender equality in management contracts and a requirement for initiatives at department/school level.

The action plan also assigns responsibility for the performance of each activity.

I’m very pleased that the new action formulates very clearly what actions we commit each other to carry out at department/school, faculty and university-wide levels at AU. On behalf of the senior management team, I’d like to thank the committee for all the hard work they’ve put into the draft action plan,” Rector Bech Nielsen said.

Action plan – emphasis on ‘action’

Drafting the new action plan was the first concrete task for AU’s new Committee on Diversity and Gender Equality, which was appointed last summer. The committee was established in response to the senior management team’s desire to intensify the university’s work to promote diversity and gender equality.

In 2019, 23 per cent of full professors at Aarhus University were women. At associate professor level, the figure was 37 per cent. And with regard to new appointments of full professors, 17 per cent of these positions went to women in 2014. Five years later, the proportion was 28 per cent.

“Even though we can see that the recruitment of female professors has increased the past five years, there’s still a need for action in this area. That’s why we, both on the committee and in the senior management team, have been strongly focused on stressing the ‘action’ in action plan,” Bech Nielsen said.

The action plan will be updated annually, in order to open up the possibility of introducing new issues and to make the work of promoting diversity and equality more dynamic.

The action plan has been sent to the faculties for consultation, and through them from the departments/schools and the diversity and gender equality committees at the faculties. The other participants in the consultation are the academic councils, HSU and LEA, and through them the administrative divisions, the administrative centres and ASU. The deadline for the consultation process is noon on Friday 26 June.


In the summer of 2019, the senior management team appointed a new central committee for diversity and gender equality at AU. Although there has been progress towards a more equal gender balance at AU, this step was taken in recognition of the fact that the process was moving too slowly.

Rector Brian Bech Nielsen and Pro-rector Berit Eika are co-chairs of the committee. In addition, each faculty is represented by a member of academic staff and a department head.

The committee’s first task was to produce a draft action plan for gender equality to replace the current ‘Action plan for more women in research 2016-2020’. In the spring of 2020, the committee’s draft action plan was submitted to and approved by the senior management team.

More information:

Policy and strategy, Administration (Academic), All groups, All AU units, Aarhus University, Talent development, Research, Research