Eight out of ten members are men

Eight out of ten members are men

In the majestic palace of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in Oslo's Dramnsvian, among busts and portraits of elderly people, a camera crew cleans equipment together. They filmed a video to announce the Abel Prize in Mathematics. It amounts, as is almost always the case, to tento man.


Scientific academies

There are three national scientific academies in Norway:

  • The Norwegian Academy of Sciences in Oslo has 950 members divided into the Mathematical Sciences Chapter and the Humanities and Social Sciences Chapter. 149 foreign members. The percentage of women is 25 percent. H
  • The Royal Norwegian Society of Science in Trondheim has 872 members (January 1, 2024). The Humanities chapter has 365 members, while the Science chapter has 507 members. The percentage of women is 22.82 percent combined for both categories.
  • The Norwegian Academy of Science and Technology in Trondheim has about 660 members, of whom 93 are women (about 14 percent).
  • In addition, we have the Academy of Young Researchers, affiliated with the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, as well as local academies such as the Agder Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences in Stavanger.

Science academies in Norway are, in general, heavily male.

Together, the three large national academies have approximately 2,500 members. 79 percent men.

This is the percentage of women in the three academies.

  • Norwegian Academy of Sciences in Oslo (DNVA): 25 percent women.
  • Royal Norwegian Society of Science in Trondheim (DKNVS Academy): 23 percent women.
  • Norwegian Academy of Science and Technology in Trondheim (NTVA): 14 percent women.

Leader in its field

In comparison, 52% of researchers at Norwegian universities and colleges are women, according to Statistics Norway.

The academies appoint members on the basis of scholarly merit. The idea is that they should be the best in their field.

Among other things, they distribute prestigious awards. They aim to represent Norwegian science in Norway and internationally. They speak publicly about research policy issues and distribute research funds.

In general, there is a large male population at the top of Norwegian academia, which also helps explain gender inequality. In addition, some members are foreigners and come from countries with a worse gender balance than Norway.

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In Norway it is 36 percent of women professors.

— How satisfied are you with the percentage of women in your company?

– I believe that the number of good female researchers is equal to the number of male researchers. Ideally, I would see 50 percent women, says the president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, Lise Ovreas.

The academy she leads has 950 members. In academies, you're a member for life, so it takes time to turn things around.

However, all three academies have recruited more men than women in recent years.

Professor of Ecology Vigdis Vandwijk is a member of all three academies.

— My experience is that we don't really talk about equality. It's simply a sin of omission on our part, says Vandevijk, who has distinguished himself in the equality debate in academia.

Vigdis Vandvik, a professor at the University of Bergen, believes that a skewed gender balance sends unfortunate signals: – It sends signals that the research community itself considers that the most important researchers in Norway are men, and that those who will be honored are men. She says it's a problem.

She stresses that she is not particularly active in academics. But when she was elected to the DNVA in 2016, she says, she asked how they worked with gender balance.

– They answered that they did not work very actively for this. “No, it will happen on its own as more women are elected,” they said. She then asked if more women had been selected, but they didn't have numbers on that, she says.

Then they gave her numbers that showed that there was an imbalance between the new elected officials as well.

“But I didn’t pursue that, and neither did the academy, as far as I know,” she says.

– The ones who should be honored are men

She believes that gender imbalance sends unfortunate signals.

– It sends signals that the research community itself considers that the most important researchers in Norway are men, and that those who should be honored are men. its a problem. It shouldn't be that way, she says.

It is the members of the Academies who personally propose new members. President Mai Thorseth from the DKNVS Academy in Trondheim says:

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-You must be recommended by members who are already members. Clearly one can imagine that it reproduces prejudice.

Regarding the 23 percent percentage of women, she says:

– Of course, it's not good enough.


A record for women in the university president’s chair

This has been the development in recent years

The president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Technology, Professor Geir Egil Dally Oen, is also dissatisfied with the 14 percent proportion of women.

– Of course it's very bad. In an area as socially important as technology and natural sciences, we need the entire population to be with us, not just half of it.

Earlier this month, the DNVA in Oslo announced it had recruited 20 new members. Seven of these, or 35 percent, are women.

Among the new members of the three academies during the past five years, the percentage of women was as follows:

  • Royal Norwegian Academy of Sciences: 37 percent
  • Norwegian Academy of Science and Technology: 27 percent
  • Norwegian Academy of Sciences: 42 percent

Lise Ovreas, President of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences. In the background are pictures of previous sessions.

Encourages women to nominate

But are they doing anything effective to increase the percentage of women?

“We encouraged members to nominate more women,” says DNVA President Liz Ofrias.

She says they have also formed an applicants committee.

“The committee was tasked with finding worthy candidates in the Norwegian research community who could become members of the academy,” she says.

When asked how long it would take for women and men to achieve the same level, she said:

– Even if in the future we wanted to hold elections with 50 percent women and 50 percent men, it would likely take at least 20 years before we could achieve an equal distribution.

Ofrias adds that 34% of its members under the age of 70 are women. This is equal to the percentage of female professors.

Coordinated admission

Fewer men in women's studies. Points about gender don't help much

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-There's no reason for it to be like this

DKNVS presenter May Thorsyth says:

– No matter who you asked, whether it was the vice president or someone else, I think everyone would answer the same way: There is no good reason for it to be this way. But to go from that to thinking we should act, we haven't really done that, with a particular focus on hiring more women.

She goes on to say:

– This is how recruitment is done by having members write a letter of recommendation. She says that if there had been a completely different way of recruiting new members, for example applying to become a member, things might have looked different.

-Are you planning to do anything special to hire more women, then?

-We have no plans not to do anything special. We'll be holding a strategy seminar this fall, and I think it's a perfectly natural topic to bring up.

The president will prioritize more women

In its 2022 strategy, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Technology has adopted a formula where members and recruitment committees are encouraged to nominate female candidates.

Ger Egil Dahle Owen.

President Jere Egil Daly Owen, who took office as president before Easter, says increasing the proportion of women is something he will prioritize.

– The strategy provides the goals, and then we must find concrete actions and target numbers that work to activate the goals. My ambition is to do this, in consultation with the board, as soon as possible, he told Khrono.

“I'm also no stranger to setting concrete goals,” he continues.

Nearly half of the women have been elected to the academy in the past five years.

Gender quota?

Vigdis Vandwijk, a member of three academies, calls for action to build attitudes to employ more women.

— We don't think we discriminate in research, but the numbers show we do. “I think we in academia should be doing more work on attitude building, and we should be showing numbers and talking about how unconscious discrimination actually happens,” she says.

Since members are the ones who nominate and vote, it is difficult to influence the formation other than working to create positions, Vandwijk believes.

But she is no stranger to some form of quotas.

“It would not have been a problem for me if I said that there should be at least 50 percent women among the newly elected,” she says.


Only one in five professors at NHH are women

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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