‘Better balance in informatics’ is funded through the BALANSE-program by the Research Council of Norway.
Gender balance in the senior-level academic positions and research management (BALANSE, 2012-2020) is an action-oriented program initiated by the Research Council of Norway, aimed at promoting gender balance in the Norwegian science community.
Women make up a large proportion of students, research fellows and academic staff at the Norwegian universities. However, only 27% of all professors at the same institutions are women (2016), even in the fields where female research fellows are in the majority. This is perceived as a paradox given the Norwegian gender equality policy, welfare services, and the high proportion of professors among the academic staff. This disparity is also reflected at the international level.
At the Department of Computer Science, the proportion of female professors is even lower, at 20%. Informatics is one of the fields that generally has low recruitment of women. Only 13-15% of our students are female, and among our PhD-students there is only one woman.
It is established that gender balance and diversity have a positive effect on the research comminuty as it provides more diverse perspectives and insights. It also influences what kind of research questions that are asked, and the focus of the research. The Research Council of Norway states that ‘the Norwegian science community must mirror the population as a whole and must incorporate the experiences and views of men and women alike’ (own translation). It is also important that future researchers observe role-models that they can identify with, otherwise we may overlook many talents.
The Research Council of Norway describes the current lack of gender balance in the Norwegian science community as a lag in the social development and calls for more knowledge about the mechanisms behind this situation. In addition, there is a need for effective measures that actively contribute to a more balanced recruitment of women to senior-level academic positions.
Practice shows that measures aimed directly at women, and individual-oriented initiatives, have not had the desired long-term effects. BALANSE therefore focuses on the structural and cultural barriers that exist in both formal and informal contexts, and influence career choices. BALANSE wants to contribute to increased knowledge and to innovative organizational change, shedding light on to the underlying causes of gender imbalance and eliminating these barrieres.
The Department of Computer Science recognizes that our sector has a great demand for more women in academic positions. The proportion of women among those who research and promote IT technology is very low, while about half of the users are women. Increased recruitment of women will facilitate a better gender balance and greater diversity in academia, research and industry. We hope that our contribution to the BALANSE-program will help develop knowledge about barriers to the recruitment of women to STEM-fields and improved tools for increased recruitment of women to the academic positions.