The funding will go to the Research Council’s recently established initiative in the area: Gender Balance in Senior Positions and Research Management (BALANSE), and has been allocated via the budget item for overall research policy priorities at the Ministry of Education and Research.
Gender balance with a knowledge policy perspective
“We are very pleased. The BALANSE initiative is extremely important to us,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway.
“Better gender balance in recruitment to academic positions is crucial,” continues Mr Hallén. “While gender balance has a gender equality component, it also entails a knowledge policy perspective. We want to recruit from our entire talent base, not just from half of it. To do this we need better balance.”
“Although Norway as a whole is at the forefront in gender equality overall, we are mediocre when it comes to gender equality in research. The aim of the BALANSE initiative is to support and strengthen efforts to remedy this problem,” says Knut Liestøl, a professor at the University of Oslo. Professor Liestøl chaired the external resource group that assessed the establishment of the initiative at the request of the Research Council.
More money in the pot?
“The allocation via the national budget is very good news. I see it as a prudent start to a larger initiative,” says Lise Christensen, who is heading up the efforts on the BALANSE initiative at the Research Council.
However, the allocation is too small to enable the BALANSE initiative to reach its stated objectives. It is not yet determined whether the initiative can expect to receive additional funding from the Research Council’s own 2013 budget.
The allocation via the national budget is very good news. I see it as a prudent start to a larger initiative, says Lise Christensen. “We have plans for further growth in the BALANSE initiative. NOK 7 million is too little to implement the programme we have envisioned. We will definitely propose a budget increase in the future and are hoping the ministries will follow up accordingly,” says Mr Hallén.
Measures for individuals and institutions alike
Both Knut Liestøl and Karina Langseth-Manrique, a director at GE Healthcare and member of the external resource group, think the best use of the NOK 7 million would be to fund a few individual projects.
One possibility would be to test out a specific form of support for projects that combine career-promoting measures for individuals along with a broader package of measures targeted at the specific challenges of each institution. A key aim of the new form of support would be to enhance leaders’ awareness of gender equality efforts.