HoD News - 11 March 2019

2019.03.11 | Niels Haldrup

Niels Haldrup

Dear colleagues,

Gender balance
On Friday 8 March the university arranged a conference on “How do we improve gender balance amongst researchers at AU?” in which a few of you participated. Over the past three decades, our department has experienced a significant improvement in terms of gender balance. However, with respect to the researcher growth layer and the admittance to our PhD programme, we are still much affected by the general gender imbalance in the profession, where the intake of students at our educations remains to be heavily skewed. Despite the general developments seen over the past decades, the progress is still extremely dispersed across fields. In some research fields, there is a clear majority of women, whereas other fields hardly have any women employed.

There may be several reasons for these observations. Often, it is easier to attain a higher proportion of female students and researchers in a particular field when a sufficient critical mass already exists; female role models exert an important influence in establishing such critical mass. Improving the gender balance within the department should have a continued focus, and it is important to address the possible barriers that tend to affect the progression of female researchers along the career ladder. We should be observant to identify unconscious barriers that affect promotions and individual decisions not to pursue or continue an academic career. Also, we should consider whether general university policy and the frames for our work place and the way we interact have unintended implications for the gender balance.

Often, politicians argue for quotas along a number of dimensions to improve the gender balance. I believe that such initiatives will have the opposite effect and will harm the discussion. Everybody should be able to compete on equal terms, but we have to ensure that the competition is fair. Within the department and in the sections, we should have a continued discussion about the conscious and unconscious barriers preventing a fair gender balance, and I am very interested in receiving your views. We have had, and we will continue to have, these discussions in various fora, such as LSU and the Departmental Forum, but I also encourage you to have these discussions in the sections and provide me with your feedback.

I will remind you (for the last time) about the work place assessment (WPA) 2019, which ends on Wednesday 13 March 2019. On 25 February you received the questionnaire in an email from Rambøll Management Consulting. I would like to repeat that your answers are important, and that I will commit to the necessary follow-up when we know the results of the WPA.

By completing the questionnaire, you will help draw attention to any issues and challenges that should be addressed at our work place, and I strongly encourage everyone to complete the survey. As you know, I will offer an award (likely to be a sumptuous cake) to the section with the highest participation rate.

Niels Haldrup

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