How Sweden Became the Country with the Highest Proportion of Women University Presidents in Europe

How Sweden Became the Country with the Highest Proportion of Women University Presidents in Europe

Sociology Public Seminars Autumn 2015

In collaboration with Gender-ARC; FESTA and Youth Community and Social Regeneration.

Date: 20th October, 13.00 in F1030

Title: Breaking the Academic Glass-Ceiling:  How Sweden Became the Country with the Highest Proportion of Women University Presidents in Europe.

Speaker: Dr Helen Peterson Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg

The intent of this seminar is to contribute to a discussion on how the academic glass ceiling can be shattered. Sweden stands out as a country with a significantly higher proportion of women Vice-Chancellors (i.e. University Presidents) than other countries. In 2010, 43 per cent of the Swedish Vice-Chancellors were women, compared to the average 10 per cent in the 27 EU countries (European Commission 2012). In 2015, 8 of the 16 Swedish Universities have women Vice-Chancellors and only 4 out of 12 University Colleges (higher education institutions which are less research intensive than the Universities) have men as Vice-Chancellors. This is a dramatic change from 1990 when there were no women Vice-Chancellors at any University and only two women Vice-Chancellors at the University Colleges. In my presentation I will identify several factors that can explain this increase in women Vice-Chancellors, taking into consideration national policies and women’s networks as well as changes in skills requirements. The appointment process and the recruitment profiles are particularly investigated. I have examined documents reporting on 69 different Vice-Chancellor appointments at 28 Swedish higher education institutions between 1983 and 2015. An in-depth comparison between the 27 cases when a woman was appointed Vice-Chancellor and the 42 that resulted in the appointment of a male Vice Chancellor reveals that there are notable divergences in how the “ideal” University President is described and conceptualized - that could explain the different outcomes.

ALL WELCOME