Skip to main content

Funding for research on gender equality in academia

The Nordic countries often find themselves at the very top of international gender equality rankings. But when it comes to the share of women at the higher levels in academia, the Nordic countries place right around the European average. Nordforsk, an organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers, has granted NOK 41.8 million to two research projects aiming to change this.

One of the two projects that have been granted funding is Nordic Centre for Research on Gender Equality in Research and Innovation (Nordicore). Mari Teigen and Liza Reizel are managing the research group at the Norwegian Institute for Social Research in Oslo that has received NOK 21.8 million. One focal point is similarities and differences between the academic sector and the rest of the labour market.

Mari Teigen. Press photo
 Mari Teigen. Press photo

‘One of the topics we are studying is how the interrelation between working life and family life leads to differing career patterns for women and men. Studies have shown that women do not leave the academic sector to a higher extent than men, as previously assumed, but that their career development is slower. Why is this?’ says Mari Teigen.

Several of the researchers in the project have previously studied the labour market in general. The project is grounded in their studies, which among other things show that Nordic countries stand out by displaying a more gender-segregated labour market than other countries as well as relatively long parental leaves, which are mainly taken by women. This affects their career opportunities.

Contribution to sustainable change

The researchers will also explore gender equality measures that have been implemented in academia, for example which ones have led to progress and which ones have not. Two of the project’s five key objectives are to involve research policy actors in the project to ensure that the results can contribute to sustainable change and to facilitate knowledge exchange between for example researchers, students, decision makers and gender equality practitioners.

‘The plan is to be able to say something about what the main barriers to gender equality in academia are, and whether they differ from those seen in the rest of the labour market. It will be interesting to learn more about the differences and similarities between the countries,’ says Mari Teigen.

Gabriele Griffin from Uppsala University in Sweden is in charge of the other research group, which has been granted NOK 20 million for the project titled Beyond the Gender Paradox: Women’s Careers in Technology-Driven Research and Innovation in and outside of Academe.. Two of the project’s focus areas are the healthcare sector and the gaming industry. The researchers believe the gendered structures in these fields have effects on the academic sector.

Gabrielle Griffin. Press photo
 Gabrielle Griffin. Press photo

‘We are seeing increasing digitalisation in healthcare, which is a very female-dominated sector. It has been assumed that this development is leading to reduced job security, but we’re not so sure that is the case. What we do know, however, is that the technological development is changing the patters in the labour market and how gender inequality is expressed,’ says Gabriele Griffin.

Two of the project’s four pillars are e-health and digital humanities. The use of digital tools to improve people’s access to healthcare is of interest not least in the sparsely populated Nordic regions.

Humanities meets digitalisation

The gaming industry is another important field besides the female-dominated healthcare sector. The Nordic countries are at the forefront of game development, and even if it is a male-dominated sector, Nordic gaming companies have a larger share of female workers than their counterparts in other countries. Digital humanities, or humanities research in the intersection with digital technology, is of particular relevance for the gaming industry.

‘Similar to healthcare, humanities research is dominated by women, whereas technology is an area traditionally dominated by men. But healthcare and humanities are becoming increasingly intertwined with technology, which is changing the labour market. How are women’s career opportunities affected in this process?’ says Gabriele Griffin.

The other two pillars of the project are research and innovation in urban and rural areas, respectively. The research project includes, besides the researchers at Uppsala University, researchers from the University of Tampere in Finland and Bergen University and Vestlandsforskning in Norway.

The research projects are funded by Nordforsk, an organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers, together with the Swedish research council Forte, the Academy of Finland, Rannís – the Icelandic Centre for Research and the Research Council of Norway. Gabriele Griffin and Mari Teigen presented their projects at the Gender Summit in Brussels 8–9 November 2016. The projects will start in January 2017.

Updated 13 April 2020