[Equal] EP Committee Report: More women scientists needed in Europe

EqualOpportunity (SL) equal at sl.ethz.ch
Wed Apr 16 12:56:50 MEST 2008

More women scientists needed in Europe
Women's rights/Equal opportunities - 15-04-2008 - 16:10 

The EP (European Parliament)Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality adopted on Monday a report on the under-representation of women in the world of science. The report calls for mainstreaming of the male-female dimension in research programmes, support for scientific careers for women and a gender balance on decision-making bodies.

Research is a key sector for the EU's economic development: Europe needs to recruit 700,000 additional researchers under the Lisbon strategy for growth and employment.  Europe's scientific potential must be used to the full if this objective is to be attained.
However, female researchers are in the minority in the EU, accounting for 35% of scientists in the public sector and only 18% in the private sector.
The higher up the academic ladder one goes, the fewer women there are.
Although women account for over 50% of European students and 43% of PhDs, they only hold 15% of senior university posts, which sharply reduces their influence over research decisions. 
The persistence of stereotypes in Europe's teaching systems, the low number of women in decision-making bodies and a lack of transparency in recruitment procedures are among the reasons for this under-representation, according to the report drafted by Britta Thomsen (PES, DK).
Fighting stereotypes and mainstreaming the male-female dimension in EU programmes
MEPs argue that conventional yardsticks for assessing "excellence" and "performance" on the basis of number of publications may be discriminatory and restrictive.
They also ask the Commission to see that scientific research programmes take account of women's participation by providing targeted gender-awareness training for those in decision-making positions, sitting on advisory boards and evaluation panels, drafting project calls and proposals and leading contract negotiations. The Commission is urged to make a mid-term review of the tools for mainstreaming the gender dimension into the seventh framework programme.
Encouraging scientific careers for women
To increase the participation of women in science, MEPs call on the Commission and the Member States to take positive measures to encourage female researchers and to develop support and mentoring schemes.
The Commission and the Member States are also asked to support networking among women scientists at national, regional and EU levels, which has been identified as an essential empowerment tool both for attracting more women scientists and for encouraging existing women scientists to participate in the policy debate and to enhance their professional advancement.
Gender balance in decision-making bodies
To bring more women into science, MEPs call on the Commission and the Member States to opt for more transparent recruitment processes and to require a gender balance in evaluation panels and selection committees, ensuring they consist of at least 40% women and at least 40% men.
Moreover, points out the committee, one of the priority areas for EU action in the Roadmap for Gender Equality is equal representation in decision-making, including a target of 25 % of women in leading positions in public sector research.  MEPs believe this target should be reached by 2010.

Procedure: Own-initiative - Committee vote: 12 in favour, 0 against, 8 abstentions. Plenary vote: May II

Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality Chair : Anna ZÁBORSKÁ (EPP-ED, SK) 


REF.: 20080414IPR26454 Contact:
Nora Chaal
Press service
 : femm-press at europarl.europa.eu
 : (32-2) 28 31151 (BXL)
Further information:Webpage of Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality


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