The plan is a dynamic document, subject to annual revision in January, coinciding with the development of the previous year’s annual report. The Director’s Leader Group approved the 2023 plan on 18 August 2023.

1. Briefly about UNIS 

The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), situated at 78 degrees north in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, is the northernmost higher education institution globally. Established in 1993, UNIS operates as a state-owned limited company under the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, overseen by a Board of Directors appointed by the Ministry. 

Focused on Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics, and Arctic Technology, UNIS provides courses and supervision at the bachelor, master, and PhD levels, serving as an Arctic continuation of study programs offered by the Norwegian universities. While not granting academic degrees, UNIS utilizes the unique Svalbard nature extensively for education and research, excelling in Arctic field-based education. 

A typical UNIS student spends six weeks to a full semester in Svalbard, with students often coming from other universities to participate in our programs. PhD fellows typically spend 3 to 4 years at our institute. We aim for 220 student years through the presence of 700-800 individual students per year, with half of them being associated with Norwegian universities and the other half having international affiliations. Our diverse academic community represents over 40 nations each academic year. 

The UNIS gender equality work is integral to our company’s strategy (Strategy 2025), valuing employees and students are our most vital resources. We emphasize equal treatment for all employees, and our personnel policy, internal guidelines, and routines firmly prioritize equality and non-discrimination in accordance with Norwegian law We recognize the significance of achieving gender balance in student enrolment, recruitment positions (PhD and PD), and professor appointments to foster the next generation of Arctic experts. We recognize that structural inequities in career progression and recognition nevertheless exist and may influence employees at all career levels. We strive to understand and document how they affect employees at our company. Gender equality in hiring, task distribution and career success is also important in terms of representation and recognition for our student body.

2. The Current Situation 

2.1 Status Equitable Students: 

At UNIS, there has been a consistent trend showing a slightly higher percentage of female students compared to male students. Over the last 5 years, trends are as follows: Year# of students Male (%) Female (%) 
2022 717 44 56 
2021 482 44 56 
2020 299 45 55 
2019 743 43 57 
2018 772 47 53 

2.2 Status Equitable Staffing:

On an annual basis, an employee headcount report is established to monitor our staffing trends over time. Over the last 5 years, trends are as follows:

YearWomenMenProp. Of women(allstaff)Female leadersMale leadersProp.Of women(leaders)
2022648443 %3633 %
2021649141 %3633 %
2020588341 %3538 %
2019567543 %3538 %
2018567742 %3538 %

As of 31.12.2022, the distribution of men and women in researcher and technical/administrative positions:

PositionWomenMenProp. ofwomen
Research assistant1150 %
PhD91243 %
Postdoc40100 %
Researcher5271 %
Adjunct associate professor5550 %
Associate professor7654 %
Adjunct professor72522 %
Professor5838 %
Administration8467 %
Academic Affairs9282 %
Technical department / Operations and fieldsafety41620 %
Administrative staff in scientific departments030 %
Total648443 %
Total scientific staff435942 %
Total technical/administrative staff212546 %

As of 31.12.2022, the distribution of men and women in boards, groups, and forums are as follows:

 WomenMenProp. of women
UNIS Board of Directors7464 %
Leader Group3633 %
Ecom5456 %
AMU3350 %
ATO4640 %
AU2340 %
Research Ethics Committee1233 %

2.3 Status of Equitable Publication Rewards

An important concern in academia is the potential disparity between men and women in obtaining co-authorships inpublications.

At UNIS, we have observed that the average number of recorded co-authorships for men is approximately 30 % higher than for women. These findings are based on the number of publications registered in the Norwegian report system, Cristin. Over the last 5 years, the system has incorporated date from 76 women and 113 men affiliated with UNIS, totaling 425 records for women and 854 for men.

2.4 Summary of the Current Situation

Our data reveals a gender equity balance ranging from 40 % to 60 % over the past five years. Given UNIS’ status as a small academic organization in the field of natural science and technology, we consider this range to be a realistic target. It is essential to acknowledge that UNIS experiences relatively rapid staff changes, which can influence this balance on short notice.

However, despite this overall balance, there is significant anomalies that warrant focused attention:

  1. Underrepresentation of female professors (38 % compared to 62 % male representation)
  2. Underrepresentation of female adjunct professors (20 % compared to 80 % male representation)
  3. Recognition disparities in academic contributions and co-authoring

Addressing these disparities is crucial to fostering a more inclusive and equitable academic environment at UNIS.

3. Objectives

Our primary objective is to strengthen our commitment to achieving organization-wide gender equality through systematic and sustainable initiatives. This work is still at an early stage, and we see the need for both cultural change and increased attention to equality in numbers.

We are determined to enhance the number of female adjunct professors (Prof II) within our institution. Currently standing at 20 %, we aim to steadily increase this figure to a minimum of 40 % in the next five years. It is important to note that their contract periods typically span from 2 to 4 years.

Additionally, we are dedicated to achieving gender equality in the recognition of academic contribution, as measured through publication records. To accomplish this, we will implement clear and consistent co-authorship guidelines that will be uniformly enforced across the organization, without any bias related to gender or seniority. Our goal is to have these effective routines firmly established by 2024. This implementation is regarded essential in ensuring gender equity in academic career development, from students to full professors.

We recognize that other measurable and non-measurable parameters play an important role in career development, and we will make these part of our future development of this Gender Equality Plan.

By striving towards these objectives, we are actively working towards fostering an inclusive and equitable environment at our institution, where all individuals have equal opportunities to thrive and succeed.

4. Responsibility and Resources

UNIS will enforce adherence to its Gender Equality Plan for all department leaders. Withing their areas of authority, they will be responsible for developing comprehensive plans with clear objectives and action initiatives to foster balanced career development opportunities of all employees.

Both department leaders and HR carry a specific responsibility to ensure the implementation of moderate gender quotas are enforced in employment processes, aligning with the targeted goals set forth in this plan. Each of the four science departments will have a particular focus on preventing gender under-representation among teaching staff compared to the total number of professors (associate &full professors). While the overall gender balance for academic staff at UNIS is currently acceptable, it is crucial to maintain a constant focus on gender balance in recruitment, career progression strategies and resource allocation within scientific departments with a small number of 5-9 full-time professors.

In line with legal guidelines, UNIS has established a policy of positive discrimination if a gender’s representation falls below 40 % to address any gender imbalances effectively.

5. Actions

Objective 1: We aim to enhance female representation among adjunct professors from the current 20 % to a progressive increase towards 40 % over the next five years.

Action 1: By 31 January 2024, the science department leaders must develop recruitment strategies for adjunct professors,aiming to achieve the targeted gender balance goal by 2028.

Objective 2: We aim to achieving gender equality in the acknowledgement of academic contributions, measured through publication records.

Action 2: In 2023, we will develop unified guidelines for scientific collaboration and co-authorships involving UNIS employees, promoting fairness and transparency recognition.

Objective 3: We aim on achieving gender equality in academic career advancements, particularly towards the attainment of full professor positions.

Action 3: This is an ongoing effort. Since joining the national professor promotion program in 2021, we have successfully promoted two female associate professors to full professors. It remains our aspiration to encourage all associate professors at UNIS to strive for promotion to full professorship during their careers. To facilitate this, department leaders have the responsibility of providing guidance and support in the development of individual career plans for their employees.

UNIS leadership has the responsibility to provide information, generate awareness and improve understanding of structural barriers to career progression. UNIS professors, who benefit from 60 % research time and acquire 3 months of sabbatical each year, are encouraged to actively utilize these resources. It is the responsibilty of UNIS leadership/department leaders to make sure that resources exist to make this possible, and that barriers are dealt with.

Action 4: Establish a cross-departmental group including members of UNIS leadership to develop and lead the work towards the first revision of this document. The group will meet on a regular basis and seek involvement from all UNIS employees, to further develop action points to achieve the goals set forward in this Gender Equality Plan.

6. Progress Reports

Every year, the annual report serves as foundation for the review and revision process within the UNIS Leader Group.