Eleven concrete activities under four different themes to increase gender equality at AU

The internal consultation on AU’s action plan for diversity and gender equality 2020-21 has begun. The action plan focusses on improving gender equality, with an emphasis on academic staff.

[Translate to English:] Illustration: Louise Thrane Jensen/Det Koloristiske Komplot

Action plan for diversity and gender equality at AU 2020-2021

The internal consultation on the draft version of a new action plan on diversity and gender equality has just begun. Employees and the faculties, departments/schools and in the administration will have an opportunity to comment on the draft, which was produced by the AU Committee for Diversity and Equality.

As stated in the description of its objectives, the plan “is an extremely important task, because, despite many initiatives over the years, diversity and gender equality remain an area with considerable shortcomings”. 

One area in which the gender balance at AU really needs addressing is at the top of the career ladder - both in management and in academic positions. This is a challenge all of the Danish universities face. Just under one in four full professors at Danish universities is a woman. And even though the action plan applies to all AU employees, the primary focus is  on academic staff. 

AU’s Committee for Diversity and Equality has selected eleven concrete activities that will be carried out or initiated in 2020 and 2021. The eleven activities are linked to the four main themes the action plan deal with: recruitment, career development, leadership and workplace culture. And the plan also makes it clear who is responsible for carrying out the different activities and when they are to be completed.

Recruitment: Gender balance must be a factor in assessing candidates

There has to be a greater awareness of diversity and gender equality in every aspect of the recruitment process. This means, for example, that positions must be re-advertised if there is only one gender represented among the qualified applicants. And that consideration of the gender balance of a unit will be included as a relevant element in the assessment of candidates for a position. 

Job advertisements will also be checked to ensure they are formulated in an inclusive way through digital text screening. 

“The effect of language quality assurance by means of a digital tool for quality assurance of job advertisements will be tested. The tool will screen the text for linguistic stereotypes and gendered words and will promote the use of more inclusive language,” the action plan states.

Finally, all faculties will be required to offer tenure track assistant professorships, to give junior researchers hired at assistant professorship level better chances of moving on to an associate professorship.

Career development: Clarity about future prospects  

The new action plan will add new tasks to the portfolios of the departments and schools. For example, creating greater clarity about the future employment prospects of academic staff. By June 2021, the departments and schools must have a staffing and recruitment plan that looks at least three years ahead for the job categories assistant professor, associate professor/senior researcher and professor. The departments and schools also have to review the qualification requirements for the different positions and revise them to ensure that they don’t contain “direct or indirect discrimination, discriminatory principles, stereotypes, etc.”

Finally, diversity and gender equality must be incorporated into general career development of employees, for example in connection with SDD dialogues. 

Leadership: Active support for equality

From autumn 2020, the employment contracts for all new managers will contain a requirement to actively support the work of promoting diversity and equality at AU. And progress will be followed up in their leadership development interviews. The requirement will also be added to all employment contracts for current managers whose contracts are extended.

And in late 2020, the senior management team will also consider a proposed leadership development scheme that also includes diversity management. 

Workplace culture: Local problems require local solutions

The action plan also addresses workplace culture, specifically in relation to creating conditions that better support the the well-being of female employees. In the autumn, the senior management team will participate in a seminar on equality and diversity. Workshops on equality and diversity will subsequently be held for the faculty management teams, the the administration's management team (LEA) and for the managers at the departments/schools and in the administration. 

And the heads of the departments/schools will be responsible for carrying out local surveys to identify the most pressing issues they face in relation to diversity and gender equality. On the background of these surveys, each department/school will select the issues to address in a systematic fashion. Both of these initiatives will take place in 2021.

Progress will be monitored by the committee

AU’s Committee for Diversity and Equality will follow up on the progress on activities and the goal of promoting diversity and gender equality at AU every year. To do so, the committee will draw on various kinds of data described in the action plan – for example, the gender distribution of qualified applicants to academic positions and management positions, including in the administration, the gender distribution of applicants invited to interviews and the gender distribution of members of appointment committees and PhD committees.  

And every third year, the plan is to carry out a WPA assessment of men’s and women’s satisfaction with their workplace across all units and job categories.

The senior management team will be responsible for the final evaluation of the action plan and its activities, after which local follow-up will take place.  

The action plan will be in force through 2021, and the process of developing a new action plan for 2022-23 will begin in autumn 2021. 

The consultation on the action plan will last until 26 June, and the senior management team is expected to approve it in August.  

Translated by Lenore Messick