Danish women fight to bring home the bacon

February 6, 1998


DENMARK is bringing out a blueprint to raise the numbers of women in university research to put it on a par with its neighbours.

Only 19 per cent of all university employees and 6 per cent of professors are females despite equality moves in the past. The dearth of female professors means students and young women researchers lack mentors and role models.

Research minister Jytte Hilden wants at least 40 per cent of university employees to be women and has proposed a series of measures to achieve this through both furthering female careers in research and more research on gender bias.

"The research world favours male researchers, their themes and their angles. This situation will not change without initiatives," she said.

A chemical engineer, Ms Hilden said that Denmark lags behind other countries such as Germany and Sweden in tackling inequality despite the existence of cheap, well-functioning day-care institutions.

Ms Hilden said that unless equality is taken seriously as a management responsibility there would be budgetary consequences.

Under the proposals, universities would have to publish annual equality reports and ensure no gender bias in job advertisements, evaluation committees and research counselling. Ms Hilden said that male researchers tended to push research they found important in job advertisements but women found these unattractive.

Ms Hilden said good mentors and sparring partners are decisive if women are to enter into and remain in research. She has also called for extra funds to enable normal university maternity leave. When researchers return to work they will be encouraged to regain and develop their status.

Ms Hilden is calling for a government research institute on equality in order to strengthen policy. The government has already given FREJA (Female Researchers in Joint Action), a special research programme for highly qualified young female researchers, an extra Kr78 million (Pounds 6.89 million) funding from 1998 to 2001 for new research projects in all disciplines.

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