Could there be a better time to talk about gender equality in recruitment than the week of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11)? These days, universities and research institutions around the world emphasize diversity, inclusion and equality in their charters, and agree that having a diverse and gender-balanced environment contributes to their overall success. While there are many factors that contribute to creating a gender-balanced workplace, the recruitment process is always the starting point. 

At Academic Positions, we are fortunate to work with some universities that are setting strong examples of how the recruitment process can contribute to gender equality. For example, at the University of Oxford,  those leading a recruitment process are encouraged to conduct a thorough and active search process, drawing on the ideas and contacts of faculty members and external leaders in the discipline to identify as wide a range of potential candidates as possible, including directly contacting suitable female candidates. At Sweden’s Lund University, there is a formal policy that the search process must be re-started if the shortlisted candidates are all of one gender. The university also always uses gender-balanced selection committees to ensure that all candidates are assessed equally and without unconscious biases. Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands has taken it one step further with its Irène Curie Fellowship program. Jobs that are part of this program are only open to female applicants for the first six months of the recruitment process. 

As a trusted academic recruitment partner, we at Academic Positions are proud to support women in science. We have helped institutions around the world promote their job vacancies to women and regularly report on the gender breakdown of the traffic that our subscription clients receive to their advertised positions. For institutions who want to take a more active approach, we use targeted social media campaigns to generate awareness of their job opportunities among potential female applicants. We also create storytelling campaigns to increase the visibility and representation of female researchers, as well as highlight institutions that are attractive employers for women.

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Adrienne Hopkins (University of Oxford) and Lena Lindell (Lund University) for sharing their valuable insights with me for this blog post.