Equal opportunities policy

In October 2013 the Independent Research Fund Denmark has adopted an Equal opportunities policy.

Independent Research Fund Denmark is to ensure a high international level in Danish research through support to the best and most original researchers, regardless of gender, within established as well as emerging areas. In order to achieve the aim, it is decisive to have all talents as the basis for recruitment of researchers. 

The gender balance in the Danish world of research is, however, uneven. Compared with other EU countries, Denmark is below average measured on material parameters such as the number of female professors, assistant professors and heads of departments, and women with a PhD. This is also the case in comparison with other Scandinavian countries.

Independent Research Fund Denmark is of the opinion that men and women have the same potential for becoming competent researchers. Although applicants have the same opportunities in theory, the Fund finds it important that the procedures and grant criteria of the Fund should not have inadvertent, negative consequences for neither men nor women. The Fund therefore finds it important to uncover and as much as possible eliminate any less visible barriers which may block the opportunities of both female and male researchers to contribute to the scientific process.

In Independent Research Fund Denmark women account for about one third of both applications and grants, and in proportion to the number of applications, women have the same success rate as men. This balance corresponds to the general gender balance in Danish research environments. However, the number of female researchers falls the higher you get on the position ladder. Thus, only 16 per cent of professors in Denmark are women. The fund wants to contribute to correcting this situation to the benefit of the versatility of ideas and subjects in Danish research.

To avoid barriers, structures and career paths which will inadvertently favour male researchers, the fund wants to focus on how both genders can obtain not just equal opportunities, but also a more equal representation within research at all levels. In practice, the fund will work towards the following:


Independent Research Fund Denmark will on an ongoing basis monitor applications from and grants to women and men, respectively, just as the Fund will look at the proportions between applications and possible applications from the two genders. Annual statistics are to be prepared to follow up on the following targets:

  • that the gender distribution among applicants for Independent Research Fund Denmark should correspond more or less to the gender distribution in the academic environments
  • that in proportion to their share of applications, men and women should obtain grants at more or less the same level within the various areas of the fund means
  • that men and women should to the same extent get from one academic level to the next, thereby ensuring in the long run a more equal gender distribution at the highest academic levels in Denmark

Attempts are made to reach the latter target through targeted career information to women about their possibilities of applying combined with specific encouragement to apply for funds to continue their research at the next career level.

Composition of fund

Independent Research Fund Denmark aims at equal representation of men and women in the fundl in order to further diversity and the quality of the academic level and the academic scope of Danish research. The target is:

  • that on the Board, the academic councils and sub-councils and the group of external assessors, the under-represented gender should account for at least 40 per cent
Means and evaluation

Independent Research Fund Denmark intends to take a number of specific initiatives to increase the attention to and potentially contribute to eliminating the uneven gender distribution in Danish research.

  • In connection with the preparation of new initiatives, such as the establishment of new methods, new guidelines, etc., the importance of the initiative for the conditions for men and women shall always be examined prior to decision-making
  • In connection with the evaluation of existing initiatives, the importance of the initiative in question for the conditions for women and men shall always be included and clarified
  • All applications for grants for major research projects shall account for the gender distribution in the group of researchers to be established. The gender distribution is not included as an assessment criterion, but the account is to create awareness with the project manager about the gender problem and therefore more awareness of the favourable effects of a broader composition in researcher groups.
  • In connection with applications for means with limitation in the form of PhD age, Independent Research Fund Denmark shall compensate for maternity/paternity leave and family-related absence with a factor 2 in relation to the actual absence
  • Monitoring of the reasons for the higher drop-out rate of women from one academic level to the next compared with the drop-out rate of men should be attempted. This will enable us to identify less visible barriers which can then be addressed specifically
Special initiatives

Independent Research Fund Denmark will on an ongoing basis initiate initiatives in order to obtain the best possible utilisation of the talents. These initiatives will always be initiated within the framework of current legislation on equal opportunities. The fund is now working on the possibility of offering means targeted towards young, female researchers who want to establish a group of researchers and be in charge of a research project.

Cooperation with other actors

Independent Research Fund Denmark is cooperating with all relevant actors in the Danish world of research. Thus, the fund will at meetings and in connection with other joint activities ensure that the conditions for women and men, respectively, will be discussed on an ongoing basis. It is the opinion of the Fund that there is a need for all actors to contribute to the development of a strong culture in the Danish world of research, where men as well as women will get an opportunity to create a research career at top level.

  • Independent Research Fund Denmark encourages the establishment at all relevant research institutions of mentor schemes for female researchers targeted towards different levels of their career. The mentor schemes might form part of the development contract of the universities with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in order to ensure focus on these aspects, both at a general level and at department and researcher group level
  • Independent Research Fund Denmark also encourages systematic work at all relevant research institutions in order to find female applicants and special encouragement for female research talents to apply to public research councils and funds.