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University of Copenhagen
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Controversial `no woman - no job´ rule approved for new professors

There has to be at least one female among the applications to a job at the University of Copenhagen. Otherwise there will be no job. University's action plan now implemented

A new ‘no woman – no job’ rule is now officially the policy at the University of Copenhagen, outlining that both a female and a male must be among the applicant pool. This is after a new action plan to equalise the gender distribution at university has been approved by management.

Only 23 per cent of professors at the university are female, and only 18 per cent in all of Denmark. The aim of the new plan is to open up universities so that there are more women in both research and management positions.

“The new plan is to ensure that we get more applicants in the game. Today only every fifth professor is a woman, and this is a loss of talent. The University of Copenhagen is not out to make it easier for women to get the position, but we will ensure that more talented people have the opportunity,” says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen.

This ruling does offer the possibility for dispensation from the rector if it is shown and ‘targeted effort’ has been made in hiring, but it has not been possible to attract a female (or male) candidate.

To be re-evaluated in three years

The new plan was first reported in January 2014 and the University of Copenhagen policies are already the subject of considerable controversy.

Detractors of the plan call the plan demeaning to women. It implicitly treats them as a B-team entitled to special support, they say. Others see the policies as a fair way to increase the numbers of women in higher education’s top positions.

The new rules come into effect in February, and will be re-evaluated in three years time, with central goals of raising the proportion of women in management to 32 per cent, an equal gender balance in at least 40 per cent of the hiring committees, and further training and research in gender perspectives within the university.

Replaces earlier scheme

This increased focus on the hiring process will result in a broadened recruitment, including accessing talent from international candidates. The new plan also stipulates funding for assistant and associate professors to begin with teaching and research after parental leave, regardless of gender.

This plan replaces the earlier financial incentive scheme from 2007, which was met with criticism, as faculties who recruited female professors were rewarded with increased funding and additional professorships.

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