1 woman = 500.000 NOK?

19.02.2007
83 percent of Norwegian professors are men. The experts are looking to change this: "Today the universities receive extra funding for student credit points and published research articles. We think that gender balance should also be rewarded," says professor Kari Melby, the chair of the committee appointed by the Ministry to analyse gender equality in academia.
Reward for women
Every time a woman is recruited as professor or associated professor, the university should be rewarded financially. This is the recommendation of the committee for integration - women in research (KiF), that recently handed over its final report to Norwegian Minister of Education, Øystein Djupedal. Numbers from research institute NIFU STEP show that 31 percent of associate professors are women, as well as 57 percent of university lecturers and 48 percent of the PhD students.

KiF suggests 500.000 NOK per woman as a reward for the recruitment of women in scientific positions. Calculations from NIFU STEP show that without this type of effort to recruit women, another 30 years will pass before Norway sees full gender equality in academia. The committee also proposes an alternative solution to the 500.000 reward, which is a common pot of money earmarked for gender equality efforts in universities and university colleges.

Controcersial
"Our propositions are controversial, but we have to spend some to win some. We are not talking about quotas, but about awareness through financial incentives, explains Melby to newspaper Aftenposten. "Higher education is a large sector suffering from women not being seen. In order to reach our goals, we cannot afford to lose so many talents," Melby says.

Not just women
"We take it for granted that the universities are rewarded financially if they recruit persons from other discriminated groups as well," says Dag Øistein Endsjø, head of the human rights alliance Menneskerettsalliansen (an umbrella organisation for different human rights groups).

Endsjø thinks the proposition of 500.000 as a reward for hiring women might be in conflict with Norwegian law is this excludes other groups: "A system like this will be in conflict with the work environment laws stating that nobody should be subjected to discrimination," Endsjø thinks.
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