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Claim: UCPH women hiring policies ´illegal´

Gender policies at the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University are illegal acts of positive discrimination. This is according to a law journal article by two of the policy's staunchest critics

The University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) pro-women gender policies have broken the law. This is according to an article in the Danish law journal Ugeskrift for Retsvæsen authored by UCPH history professor Hans Bonde and lawyer Jens Ravnkilde.

UCPH had a plan to increase the number of female professors between 2008 and 2013. It included a financial incentive to faculties that hired female professors in the form of a ‘bonus professorship’ for either men or women. The plan has since been superseded by a new scheme that is also designed to increase the number of women professors.

Faculties that increased their numbers of female professors by five percent were rewarded with anything ranging from DKK 1 to 3 million depending on the size of the faculty. Ultimately, all of UCPH’s faculties received this bonus.

Knows it was illegal

UCPH’s faculties were to receive DKK 200,000 for five years for every female lecturer hired and double that for every female professor hired, making it completely cost-free for the entire duration of the plan.

But according to Bonde and Ravnkilde, there is no documentation that indicates that faculties have actually used these allocated funds to hire additional professors. Instead, Bonde and Ravnkilde suspect that the faculties have incorporated these bonuses into their regular budgets.

They write that despite the Gender Equality Plan being ‘a raging success on its own terms’, UCPH has opted not to pursue the same programme any further. Bonde and Ravnkilde believe that the University of Copenhagen must know that the plan and the use of funds are legally questionable, and that this must be behind the decision to discontinue the plan.

Hire one, get two

At the Niels Bohr Institute at UCPH they’ve had a policy running for ten years that “gives women twice as big a chance of being hired as men,” the authors write in a press release.

From time to time, the Institute employs two candidates even if just one position is open by hiring the second-best candidate too, as long as it’s a woman: “Women are hired if they’re among the two best, whereas men only get hired if they are the very best,” say Bonde and Ravnkilde.

“The illegality [of the above] can be described like this: A position is open, but it is in reality two positions, where one is earmarked for women. This second position will remain untaken if the second choice is a man. Earmarking positions in favour of a specific gender is illegal according to Danish law.” say Bonde and Ravnkilde citing the equal opportunities law Chapter 2, § 2.

University: We need the women talent

In a release on the University of Copenhagen website, the university defends itself. It has ‘followed legislation and has received dispensation from the ministry in the cases where it was necessary. Rector Ralf Hemmingsen elaborates:

“The recruitment of talent is the lifeblood of the University of Copenhagen. It is therefore a serious problem, when one gender is so markedly under-represented. Then we lose talent. It is the reason why we emphasise getting more talented women to seek employment. This said, they should of course not be favoured, but live up to the application prerequsities and get the jobs in open competition, Ralf Hemmingsen says.

See the article in Ugeskrift for Retsvæsen by Hans Bonde and Jens Ravnkilde on the attached pdf file below this article.

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