Archive for April 2005

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[eccr] Women and Science: Excellence and Innovation - Gender Equality in Science

Mon Apr 18 09:57:49 GMT 2005

Women and Science: Excellence and Innovation - Gender Equality in Science

The European Commission has released a staff working document that examines 
the challenges that must be addressed in order to increase gender equality 
in science.


The European Commission has drafted a staff working document outlining the 
main challenges that must be addressed in order to increase gender equality 
in science.

In addition to increasing the numbers of women pursuing a career in 
science, technology and innovation, empowering women in the decision-making 
process; finding a way to reconcile professional and private life; making 
evaluation practice more gender-neutral; and strengthening gender research 
are highlighted as the major challenges.

The latest data show that while the gender gap at the top of the academic 
career ladder is beginning to close, it is doing so very slowly. Although 
the total number of women full professors in Europe increased by 23 per 
cent between 1999 and 2002, they continue to make up only 14 per cent of 
all full professors, compared to 13 per cent three years previously. Only 
in Latvia, Portugal and Finland are 20 per cent or more of full professors 

Small improvements have been observed in the number of women graduates (56 
per cent in 1999 to 58 per cent now); doctorate degrees received by women 
(39 per cent to 41 per cent over the same period); and the proportion of 
women graduating with a degree in engineering, manufacturing or 
construction (21 per cent in 1998, 25 per cent in 2002).

The paper runs through a raft of EU level initiatives aimed at addressing 
these challenges and others, and also assesses progress at Member State 
level. Most countries do have policies to promote gender equality in 
science, but provisions vary greatly between Member States.

'In terms of the participation of women in science, the objectives now need 
to be more narrowly focused, to concentrate essentially on certain 
disciplines or fields (engineering, entrepreneurship, innovation and 
technology) or levels (senior and decision-making positions),' states the 
Commission paper.

The Commission therefore suggests that a number of issues are prioritised. 
These include boosting the number of women in leading positions through the 
adoption of quantitative and qualitative targets at European, national and 
institutional level. 'The proportion of women in leading positions should 
increase to at least 25 per cent by 2010, states the Commission, and women 
should make up 33 per cent of new recruits by the same year.

The paper also proposes strengthening gender research and gender issues in 
research by creating a dedicated budget within the EU's research programmes 
for the gender dimension, and by launching an award for excellence in 
gender research.

Measures to enhance the role of women in engineering and innovation are 
also outlined, along with ideas for reconciling professional and private 
lives, improving gender monitoring in the Member States and making the 
monitoring of the EU's research framework programmes more efficient. The 
latter concern should be addressed through technical improvements to the 
gender database, the introduction of regular progress reports, and the 
introduction of 'gender-budgeting'.

Carpentier Nico (Phd)
Katholieke Universiteit Brussel - Catholic University of Brussels
Vrijheidslaan 17 - B-1081 Brussel - Belgium
T: ++ 32 (0)2-412.42.78
F: ++ 32 (0)2/412.42.00
Office: 4/0/18
Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Free University of Brussels
Centre for Media Sociology (CeMeSO)
Pleinlaan 2 - B-1050 Brussels - Belgium
T: ++ 32 (0)2-629.18.30
F: ++ 32 (0)2-629.28.61
Office: 5B.401a
European Consortium for Communication Research
E-mail: (Nico.Carpentier /at/

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