EQUAL TREATMENT Significantly more clinically active women than men defend their theses at the Institute of Medicine, but many women leave Sahlgrenska Academy after receiving their doctorates. This is one of several interesting observations in a new gender equality report, which has also attracted interest from outside the institute.
The study was carried out over the past year on behalf of Head of Institute Jan Borén, as one of the measures decided after the RED19 quality evaluation report.
“We now wanted a full review of all categories of research and teaching staff in terms of gender equality–that is, the differences between women and men,” notes Borén, head of the Institute of Medicine. Obviously men and women should have equal opportunities, and it is important that we have a factual basis on which to act. This is particularly a question of quality. We are to support the best teachers and researchers–regardless of gender.”
The working team behind the report consisted of Kristina Eriksson (convener), Magnus Simrén, Anna Winkvist, and Maria Åberg.
It takes long to attain a professorship
A clear problem highlighted in the report is the likelihood that female doctors will abandon the academic path after completing their doctorates. Among clinical doctoral students, two out of three are women, but at the professor level the reverse is true: two out of three clinical professors are men.
“There is a clear trend that we are losing female clinical researchers. The higher up the academic ladder, the more the proportion of women drops. We do not know how to account for this, but in the report we call attention to it as something that needs to be addressed,” says Kristina Eriksson.
Another clear finding from the survey is that the progress of women in academic careers proceeds at a pace that is significantly slower than for men. Women are on average six years older than men when they become professors. On average, it takes a woman two more years to become an associate professor and three more years after completing their doctorates to attain a professorship.
“We have several professors under the age of 50 in the Institute, but only one of them is a woman. This confirms the picture of other surveys, including those by the Swedish Research Council at the national level, which have shown that it takes longer for women to become professors. Women remain stuck at the associate professor level much longer,” says Eriksson.
The report confirms what we already knew: that women are underrepresented in the group of adjunct professors. Of the female adjunct professors, three out of four actually are retired. Women are also underrepresented among professors in combined positions that also include the healthcare and medical system.
Similar pay distribution
The study has been carried out pragmatically with the aim of providing a quick overview of problems that may need to be addressed. With the support of Administrative Manager Göran Liljedahl and the faculty’s chief financial officer, Kristina Johansson, the team has made an inventory of gender equality at the Institute of Medicine. The variables examined include gender, department, primary profession, research funding, international post-docs, and whether the doctoral period was full-time or part-time. The analysis also included data on current position, salary, time from dissertation to associate professorship, time from dissertation to professorship, scheduled teaching, and administrative assignments.
Among associate professors, men have significantly higher salaries than women, but in other groups, the salary structure seems to be equal, the report concludes. The survey identifies quite large differences in salaries among groups, but women’s and men’s salaries are generally similar across the spectrum. The amount of funding a researcher attracts or the amount of teaching done does not seem to affect how high a person’s salary is.
May inspire a larger survey
Recently, Kristina Eriksson also presented the results of the Institute’s survey of Medi-SAM research, a report that attracted great interest. Pro-Dean Henrik Hagberg believes that the results not only point to interesting factors for gender equality, but also highlight the value of serving as an international post-doc for a period of time. Researchers at the Institute of Medicine who have been abroad as post-docs attract 10 times as much external funding for their research.
“We do not know if these results are representative for other disciplines as well, because the data in the study is unfortunately too small to make comparisons in sub-analyses,” notes Pro-Dean Hagberg. “It would be interesting to carry out a similar study for all of Sahlgrenska Academy. This would make it possible to better understand which researchers need special support and, in particular, provide an excellent basis for the next Swedish Research Council evaluation of clinical research.”
The report has been read and discussed by the management of the Institute of Medicine and by all heads of departments. The Institute’s management and heads of department are now working on an action plan and proposals for measures, which will be presented at a teaching staff meeting in the spring.
You can read the Institute of Medicine’s gender equality report here (PDF, in Swedish).
BY: ELIN LINDSTRÖM
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