Bonuses to boost gender equity at Swedish unis

Bonuses to boost gender equity at Swedish unis
Swedish universities should be offered cash ‘equality bonuses’ for making significant strides toward increased gender equity, a government commission has proposed.

“It’s obvious that the problem of a lack of gender equity at higher education institutions isn’t going to solve itself,” the chair of the commission, Pia Sandvik Wiklund, said in a statement.

“We’re convinced that an economic incentive is necessary to stimulate the will to change which does in fact exist at higher education institutions.”

Writing in a debate article in the Dagens Nyhter (DN) newspaper, Sandvik Wiklund was more succinct:

“Money talks.”

For the last two years, Sandvik Wiklund has chaired a government mandated delegation on gender equity in higher education.

The group, which was tasked with developing proposals to promote gender equity at Sweden’s colleges and universities, presented its final proposals to deputy education minister Nyamko Sabuni on Friday.

“It’s obvious that gender equity should be integrated into the regular systems of governance, follow-up, and evaluation. This is where things fall apart,” said Sandvik Wiklund.

To that end, the delegation proposed offering an ‘equality bonus’ of 50 million kronor ($7.5 million) per year to be divided among Swedish college and universities where “gender equity has been judged to be significantly good or to have improved significantly”.

Other proposals put forward by the delegation include more stringent follow-ups of university’s recruiting to ensure improvements in the recruitment of femail professors as well as reviewing the guidelines for handing out research funding and quality evaluation from a gender perspective.

The delegation also wants to task Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO) with reviewing universities’ work to promote equality between the sexes.

In handing over the proposal, Sandvik Wiklund emphasised the importance of promoting gender equality in higher education.

“This is also about the legitimacy of the academy as a pillar of society and about Swedish society’s development and competitiveness,” she said.

“The questions we need to ask ourselves are, “Can we? Do we want to? Do we dare to?’”

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