Like other technical universities, Chalmers has a very low share of women at faculty levels. At Chalmers, the share is currently 22 percent. However, research shows that a more equal gender balance leads to greater scientific success, and also to a better work environment, both for men and women.
Therefore, Chalmers is now making a great effort to deal with the skewed gender distribution. The investment is funded by the Chalmers Foundation and has a budget of 300 million SEK over ten years.
“Different studies clearly show that the academy is not equal today – men and women are judged and treated differently. With this powerful investment, in addition to what we already do, we want to correct the imbalance and in addition become a stronger and more successful university. It's about making better use of the competence of the entire population," says Stefan Bengtsson, president and CEO of Chalmers.
Chalmers has been working on gender equality for a long time. But the new investment, named Genie as an abbreviation of Gender Initiative for Excellence, represents a huge move to speed up the changes.
Genie consists mainly of two parts. One is concrete work at each department in order to identify and eliminate structural and cultural barriers that impede women's careers. Departments that meet Chalmers’ gender equality requirements will receive a bonus in the internal funding distribution.
The second p
art is direct recruitment of top female scientists, and to ensure that other recruitments, for example due to retirements, result in at least 50 percent women.
"It is abou
lding a critical mass of women. A small minority has difficulty gaining proper support. But that does not mean that we are lowering our competence requirements –
there are many female researchers who are extremely competent,” says professor
Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, one of the initiators of Genie.
Text: Ingela Roos
Photo: Johan Bodell