551.1
Advancing Gender Equality in Nordic Academia: Political Will and Persistent Paradoxes

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 7:30 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Liisa HUSU , Gender Studies/Centre for Feminist Social Studies, Írebro University, Írebro, Sweden
The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – can be characterized as global leaders when it comes to overall gender equality of society (World Economic Forum, 2012).  Political will to advance gender equality in academia is evidenced by the gender equality promotion that has been actively on the national policy agendas since the late 1970s-early 1980s, through various national level interventions, especially so in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Gender equality is addressed in the university legislation in Norway and Sweden, and universities are legally obliged to engage in equality planning. These three countries show the highest proportion of women on scientific boards in the European Union, approaching gender parity, and the highest proportion of women among university Vice-Chancellors in the EU (EC, 2013). Even if many key gatekeeping positions in shaping the academic and scientific landscape show greater gender equality, unequal gendered structures in academic careers prevail. If the proportion of women among full professors is used as an indicator of gender equality in academia and science, Norway and Sweden do not excel in a European comparison, having only reached the same level as the European (EU-27) countries on average, while Denmark has among the lowest, whereas Finland among the highest proportions of women among full professors within the EU. This paper interrogates the Nordic paradox of high overall gender equality in the society, political will and active policy regulation to advance gender equality in academia and science, on the one hand, and the persistent unequal gendered structures in academic careers and inequalities in resource allocation, especially in research funding, on the other. Accordingly, differences and similarities between the Nordic countries will be highlighted and discussed, along with historical developments, policy landscapes and continuing resistances to greater gender equality both within and outside academia.