Gender Inequality in Science

As the Swedish election is approaching faster than you can swipe left on Tinder, the question of how the different parties look at future of science was brought to the table by the Young Academy of Sweden ,who invited representatives from the political parties in Sweden for a debate on science policy at Stockholm University.

What really got me to listen was the debate on equality in science, or rather the lack thereof! Swedish science policy in the last decade has led to the redistribution of up to a billion Swedish kronor from female to male scientists. Moving backwards, not forwards, basically.
So what about KI? According to the Mentor4equality survey conducted at KI in 2013 it’s a pretty bleak picture:

“In 2012, 73% of the professors at KI were men whereas, despite 76% of the students being females . 83% of the deans and assistant deans were men; The number of men in the management group has increased from 44% in 2011 to 68% in 2012. The proportion of men as heads of departments is 68 % which is a decrease of 5 % from the previous year”

Things look better at PhD level and also at research-associate and senior researcher level. But this does not automatically mean time will pass and equality will happen by itself. Female student have exceeded males student since the 70’s and look at what happened so far… nothing! According to a 2009 rapport from The Swedish Higher Education Authority, the proportion of newly recruited female professors would have to be 57% per year for us to reach a 50/50 gender split at professor level within 20 years!

So the questions now is how do we make sure that equal gender representation at all levels in academia doesn’t take 20 years ? KI has outlined an action plan for equality, with the rather ambitious goal that by 2015, at least 47% of all newly recruited professors should be female. As for the political parties, suggestions to increase equality ranged from no action to gender quotas. Check out the debate here.

Finally, I am thinking about what I can do. I started by voting (it’s this Sunday folks, there is no excuse not to vote when you have the privilege of living in a democracy), and now it’s time for me to start thinking about how we can work with equality every day in the workplace and in the science I do.

No more glass ceiling, no more bottle neck and no more boys club: not in funding allocation, not in promotion and not in pay. Its 2014 and we should be doing better than this.


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