Last year, 55 professors were appointed at the University of Zurich – exactly the same number as in 2020. The new professors come from 10 different countries – 22 of them from Switzerland, 16 from Germany and 17 from other countries.
The Faculty of Medicine made the most appointments (17), followed by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (15) and the Faculty of Science (14). Fourteen of the appointments were for assistant professorships funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, 10 further appointments were for assistant professorships and nine for associate professorships ad personam.
One statistic from 2021 marks a historical shift: The number of newly appointed female professors. In 2021, 28 women took up professorial appointments at UZH, up slightly on 23 the year before and a considerable increase on the figures from 2019, when only 15 women were appointed.
Ten of the newly appointed female professors teach and research at the Faculty of Medicine, nine at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, seven at the Faculty of Science and two at the Vetsuisse Faculty. One factor contributing to the considerable increase in the number of women appointed was the promotion of eight PRIMA grant-holders to assistant professorships. The majority of the women were appointed at assistant professorship level, with or without tenure track.
For the first time ever in the history of the University of Zurich, more women than men were appointed as professors (51% vs. 49%). The goal the university set for itself last year was to increase the appointment of female professors to at least 40 percent within the next 10 years. “The new statistics show that we are following the right path with our efforts to increase the proportion of women in higher level positions,” says UZH President Michael Schaepman.
UZH has put measures in place at various levels to encourage the candidacies of women. For example, in 2018 guidelines on selection procedures in the appointment process were issued. These guidelines are aimed at making the process fairer and more transparent by setting out precise instructions for each of the individual steps to be taken when making professorial appointments – such as writing the job advertisement, holding the job talks and conducting the interviews with the appointment committee. In addition, one of the aims of the Gender Equality Action Plan 2017-2022/21 was to increase the proportion of women in higher-level positions. Specific projects have been launched to support female scholars in applying for funding or to introduce part-time leadership positions, for example.
Despite all such efforts, it will still take some time before gender parity is achieved. In 2021, 203 of 735 professors were women, i.e. 27.6 percent, a slight increase on the 25.1 percent in 2020. These figures put UZH in a middling position compared to other higher education institutions in Switzerland. A forecast model from the Office for Gender Equality and Diversity shows how long it will take to have equal numbers of men and women in professorial positions: If the appointment rate remains 50/50, the proportion of female professors at UZH would reach 30% within the next two to three years. Thirty percent is an important hurdle for critical mass – nevertheless, complete gender parity will still take 15 years.