The ‘leaky pipeline’

The ‘leaky pipeline’ refers to the pattern of loss of talent that results when quantifying gender in relation to academic careers, which negatively affects women throughout Europe.

The following graph indicates that of a total 59% of female graduates only 21% become professors (Grade A), whereas 41% of male graduates, 79% of professors are male. Further, minimal progress is seen from 2007 to 2013.

Male and female academic career progression (‘Implicit bias in academia’. LERU. 2018).

During the last decade, the biggest universities of Denmark have shown their interest to acknowledge the gender imbalance. Both the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) and Aarhus University (AU) have presented their respective action plans. Despite the efforts, little change has been observed.

The ‘leaky pipeline’ at University of Copenhagen

A recent article written by a member of the DANWISE advisory board, Professor Bente Rosenbeck, was published based on data from 2017 at UCHP indicated that:

  • 56% PhD students were women.
  • 24.4% of professors were women, being slightly higher than the average in Denmark (21.2%).
  • 25% of the female professors were employed as MSO professors (professor with special responsibilities; temporary rank), which is higher than male MSO professors (12%)
  • 28% of hired professors were women
  • In the period of 2015 – 2017, in Denmark, the rate of hiring professors has decreased from 33% to 30% and a decrease has also been observed in hiring of Associate Professors from 42% to 35%.

The ‘leaky pipeline’ at Aarhus University

An overview of ‘local’ gender distributions is given in a report on ‘Gender equality at Aarhus University’.

AU’s share of female researchers is below the EU average and well below the level in the other Nordic countries.

Gender distribution in Aarhus University during 2014.
Women’s proportion at institutes in Aarhus University (2012).

A comparison of the percentage of women in Scandinavian universities (data from 2012) is shown in the following table:

Hiring at a national level

According to a report released by the Danish Ministry of Education and Research on Scientific Staff of universities in Denmark (‘Videnskabeligt personale på universiteterne 2017’), by the end of 2017 women represented:

  • 22% of professors,
  • 33% of the lecturers and
  • 41% of assistant professors.

Representing a total of 34% of the total scientific staff at the level of professorship.

Source: Styrelsen for Forskning og Uddannelse