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What about gender equality in research? Introducing a new blog series

25th May 2020 at 4:47 pm

Several of our recent blog posts focused on COVID-19 and the impact it is having on proposal writing, submission deadlines, research progress and project management. But what about the impact on gender equality in research and innovation? Tweets, facebook posts, research articles and general interest publications have all highlighted how parenting has taken a new dimension for many during this pandemic, and the scientific community is curious to see if and how gender inequalities in research output and publications are being affected. With women usually taking on the caring duties for family members, and often suffering from inadequate support systems, especially in the world of research and innovation, it wouldn’t be surprising if COVID-19 exacerbated this gender gap. We’re also curious to find out and are of course hoping that this will not be the case, as gender balance and equality in research and innovation is a topic as important to us as it is also to the European Commission (see our blog post on Priority criteria for equally scored H2020 ITN proposals).

While the EU has become a leader in the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality, we still face many challenges to achieve a gender-equal Europe. With this in mind, in March 2020 the European Commission launched its 2020-2025 gender equality strategy A Union of Equality. Over the past decade there have been many efforts, and several successful ones, at promoting a more gender equal environment in research and innovation, including funding support to projects aimed specifically at implementing gender equality plans in higher education and promoting the advancement of women in STEM fields. Nonetheless, women are still underrepresented in leading positions in higher education (18-25% of the total share in most EU countries), they often receive a lower salary than their male colleagues, are underrepresented as first or sole authors in peer-reviewed publications as well as patent inventors, and bare most of the (unpaid) workload when it comes to household and family care. These are just a few of the inequalities faced by women researchers today.

At accelopment we value the importance of gender-diverse teams, we are a “living example” of gender equality (8 female staff out of 14), we promote the inclusion of a gender analysis dimension in research and support the progression of gender equality in the education, research and innovation environment. To this end, we will soon be expanding our training offers to include courses on gender equality in research. These will be especially targeted to raising awareness among the many Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) that are part of Horizon 2020 Innovative Training Networks (ITNs), including for example Train2Target, EuroNeuroTrophin, NanoCarb, STACCATO, MUSIQ, MOSAICS and MORE in which we are partners. In the meanwhile, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post series on gender equality, with which we aim to raise awareness for gender (in)equality in research and innovation, discuss current trends, possible strategies and solutions.

To keep you informed on the topic until our next gender equality blog post, we’ve selected some timely reads to share with you: