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Women in research: Still room for improvement

The first status check of the work on breaking down any barriers preventing women from having a career in research at the highest level at Health has now been carried out. There are still challenges, but there are also positive trends in the very preliminary findings.

2017.04.20 | Kirsten Olesen

The action plan for more women in research must ensure that women have the same opportunities to pursue a research career as men.

The balance between men and women must improve in the research environments at Health. There are very few female members of academic staff at top-level in particular, in committees and among the nominees for prizes.
This is the conclusion of the "The Faculty's and the departments' action plan for more women in research 2016-2020", which the senior management team adopted in November 2016.

The plan has now undergone its first status check: At the most recent meeting of the faculty management team, Vice-dean for Talent Development at Health, Lise Wogensen Bach, reported on the status and development at faculty level, while the department heads were also given the opportunity to report on the status at their respective departments, including special initiatives.

"We have only had around six months to follow-up on the action plan, so we cannot see a reliable picture yet. But there are tendencies that show progress is being made towards a better balance in new appointments," says Vice-dean for Talent Development at Health, Lise Wogensen Bach.

More female professors with special responsibilities (MSO) – but the figures are small

Generally speaking, virtually all departments have an equal distribution of male and female members of academic staff, but the majority of women are found at postdoc and assistant professor level, where they belong among the young research talents. But female researchers are still not particularly strongly represented in the assessment and expert committees.

“The question is why: Perhaps it is due to people choosing the profiles they are accustomed to. Or perhaps it is because we do not prepare the ground properly for the female researchers, so they do not come forward," says Lise Wogensen Bach.

However, the percentages have shifted a little when it comes to new appointments at a high level: More women have typically been appointed as professor with special responsibilities (MSO) than in the previous year two years, while tenured professorships are still most frequently filled by male researchers.

Part of the strategic recruitment

"We view this work towards a better gender balance at faculty and departmental levels as part of our work with strategic recruitment, which also includes intensified efforts to recruit more international elite researchers," says Lise Wogensen Bach.

"With the first status follow-up at Health, we now have now begun work on the statistics that will run until 2020."

By working with the action plan, she hopes to ensure that women have the same opportunities to pursue a research career as men. Both in order to recruit the best or best qualified researchers, and to work for diversity and a good work environment.

Lise Wogensen Bach will present the status for the Committee for Research and External Cooperation on 21 April. The theme will also be reviewed under the theme of "strategic recruitment" at the management seminar at Sandbjerg Manor in May.



·         The purpose of promoting a better gender balance among the faculty's academic staff is to break down structural and cultural barriers so more women can achieve a research career at the highest level. The faculty thus wishes to retain the best talents and increase diversity, thereby ensuring a good work environment.

·         The first actual figures showing whether the departments' initiatives to ensure more women in e.g. assessment committees and new appointments are working as intended will be available in March 2018; at present, the figures from 2015 and/or 2016 provide an indication of developments.

·         The faculty management team discusses the status of initiatives and target figures at department/centre and faculty level once every year. The next time is March 2018.

·         See the Faculty's and the departments' action plan for more women in research 2016-2020



Vice-dean for Talent Development Lise Wogensen Bach
Aarhus University, Health
Mobile: (+45) 2548 8522

Talent development, Health and disease, Academic staff, Health, Health