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Denmark’s exemplary gender balance falls short - New Correspondence in Nature

Mette Bendixen

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Is excellence in Science a man’s domain? 

My colleagues in DANWISE (Danish Society for Women in Science) and I have articulated the need for a better gender balance in academia in Nature as a response to a News Feature article in Nature ‘Science in Europe: by the numbers’

Denmark is among the world’s leading scientific countries in terms of output, citations and funding but its gender balance in science lags embarrassingly behind that in many other European Union countries.

Given the generally high level of equality in Denmark, and some of the best provisions in the world for parental leave and child-care it is alarming that Denmark is still so far behind other EU countries. Danish women constitute significantly less of the professor population, secure less of the larger grants, and constitute a smaller proportion of members of national academies. As an example, between 20-30% of money allocated by Danish funding bodies are received by women.

All these metrics and indices are highly influential in securing the move up the career ladder. Consequently, there is a clear waste of potential, especially since women make up +50% of the graduate student population but only 20% remain at the professor level.

Scientific excellence should not only be a matter of ranking high and having high citation impacts. Only by incorporating women at equal levels to men, true scientific excellence is created.

I am proud to have written this piece and to be a part of DANWISE.