A majority of female PhDs

Women accounted for 53 per cent of the PhDs at the University of Bergen last year.

Flere kvinner enn menn tok doktorgraden i 2012
Flere kvinner enn menn tok doktorgraden i 2012

Main content

– I believe that the future trend is that women will constitute the majority of doctorates at the university, says Rector Sigmund Grønmo.

On 25 January 2013 doctorates will be awarded to 107 candidates in a ceremony in Håkonshallen. And just like at the doctor ceremony held in August 2012 there will also this time be a majority of women.

Of the 251 people defending their doctoral thesis in 2012, there were 134 women and 117 men. This is only the second time that there has been a majority of women doctors graduating from UiB in any given calendar year. The previous year this happened was in 2008. But Rector Grønmo believes that this is only the beginning of a trend where there in future will be a regular majority of female doctors graduating from the University of Bergen (UiB).

– The increase in female doctoral graduates can be found in the rising number of female students. Women now make up far more than 60 per cent of the student body at UiB. With this in mind, I believe we shall see more women than men getting PhDs as well. It is a good thing to see that our goals for gender equality are being met, Grønmo says.

50-year struggle for equality

In 1963 Flora MacDonald Hartveit became UiB’s first female PhD graduate, writing a dissertation on breast cancer. But even 30 years after this event, only one in four doctors were female. In other words it has been a 50-year struggle for equality since the first woman doctor graduated before today’s female majority amongst doctorates.

But although overall women are in the majority amongst PhD graduates, there are huge variations between the faculties. Whilst the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry has a far greater number of women than men, the opposite is true for the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Grønmo says that the UiB leadership is working to reduce such inequalities.

– As part of our overall effort to encourage more people to study mathematics or natural sciences, we also put emphasis on getting more female applicants to these disciplines. This work has delivered good results in the recent past. Eventually this will take the shape of more female PhD candidates at the faculty, Grønmo believes.

Few female professors

Despite the predominance of female doctoral candidates, UiB still faces an uphill battle when it comes to gender equality further up the academic ladder. While women currently occupy 54 per cent of research fellowships, females hold less than a third of all professorships at UiB.

– We have a comprehensive plan of action for gender equality, with a number of measures to increase the share of women, Grønmo says. – We have paved the way for qualification programmes for female postdoctoral fellows and associate professors. In the last few years the proportion of female professors has increased from 15 to about 25 per cent now.

It will however take some time to achieve full gender equality on the professor level.

– As we have a clear majority of male professors and few new professorships are added each year, there are structural reasons for why there still we some years before we reach full gender balance on the professor level, according to Grønmo.


Translated by Sverre Ole Drønen.