The percentage of women has increased in all job categories at NTNU since the mid-1990s. Regarding professorships, there are still far fewer women than men in these positions, and the proportion of women professors is also slightly lower at NTNU than at the other major universities in Norway. Gender imbalance at NTNU has often been explained with reference to the university’s particular profile that has an emphasis on natural science and engineering. Measures to change the imbalance have mainly been aimed directly at individual women who are potential candidates for top positions (qualification scholarships, starter packages, mentoring). Although it has achieved some good results, different measures are needed for further improvements.
This follows from the fact that there are substantial differences, not only between the faculties but also between departments of the same faculty - probably also within the research groups at the individual departments. Moreover, it is important to note that the differences in terms of gender balance between the departments have increased from 2000 to 2013. This indicates that there are limitations in measures which are primarily directed toward women individually.
Against this background and based on the priorities of NTNU's strategic plan and ongoing work on career policy, the project will conduct surveys and use a workshop-based and practice-based method for promoting a more inclusive culture that strengthen the conditions for improving the gender balance above all among professors and similar top scientific positions. Specific measures will be drawn upon in collaboration with selected departments that may for example be about recruitment, work environment, career monitoring and organization of research groups.
The project will also contribute to foster a better understanding of how gender balance may be improved, and help to identify important challenges and effective measures for improving the situation. Generally, we will have a strong emphasis on communicating results from the project within NTNU, but also to other academic institutions and through scientific publications. Also, the project is an equal opportunity measures in the ongoing process of fusion.
A main feature of the project is to focus on the departments, the local theories of gender (im)balance of heads and employees, and the local challenges of making improvements. Local problem understanding is difficult to change from outside. The aim of our project is to create a basis for change from within and in such a way that the local potential for development and implementation of measures are strengthened. Thus, gender balance is associated to the more general goals of academic quality enhancement and career planning. Commitment to gender balance and professional quality are two sides of the same coin. This insight offers the opportunity of seeing improvements of the gender balance as a win-win situation for all academic employees.