EPWS 2016 report to the French Ministry of Higher Education




2016 report of the European Platform of Women Scientists – EPWS
For the French ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research


Claudine Hermann, EPWS vice-president



The purpose of the present study is to inform the Department of Human Resources strategies, Parity and Fight against Discriminations of the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research of the obstacles to women careers in academia and on the solutions provided by public policies in several European countries (outside France).

The topic was chosen by this ministry department. EPWS Board members provided elements on actions, if any, in Austria, Baltic States Germany, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom and Sweden; EPWS members gave information on Swiss initiatives. These answers are various and instructive ; in the original document in French they are supplemented by translations into French of web documents, with links as references.

This collected information does not aim at being exhaustive: we just wished to give an idea of the variety of the operated measures and to detail some of them that seemed particularly original (from a French perspective…).

This issue of women careers in academia happened to be particularly up-to-date during Summer 2016: indeed on the one side in Horizon 2020 Framework Programme the European project EFFORTI (Evaluation framework for promoting gender equality in Research and Innovation) just started and will deal with such questions with Austria, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Spain and Sweden as partner countries; Dora Groo, Hungarian member of the EPWS Board of Administration, is a partner in this project and gave us information about several of these countries taken from the EFFORTI application file.

Besides mid-July 2016 the internet portal GenPORT, a 7th Framework programme EU project, published a set of 4 short notes (4-5 pages) (Policy Brief 1-4) « Encouraging the recruitment and promotion of female researchers»: they present concrete examples of political actions from EU countries on the issue of women in science and recommendations adapted to different policies and current situations of Member States.

Before describing the obstacles to women careers in academia in Europe and the solutions proposed by public policies in several EU countries, it seemed interesting to specify that a women scientist’s career in Europa is made of a succession of stages:

– Orientation of young people towards studies leading in particular to those careers

– Entrance in the career after a PhD – Career development

– Access to higher positions (grade A = university professor)

– Access to decision-making positions in higher education and research

Several types of activities are combined in an academic job:

– Teaching to students

– Research in a laboratory

– Teaching and research administration

– Dissemination of research results towards general public.

At each stage in their career, and in their various activities, women scientists can meet obstacles that public policies will try to suppress through adapted measures.


From the different examples shown in the report in French it can be noticed that the political decision is a prerequisite; then practically any measure has a financial and/or human cost and can produce an effect only in the long term.

This bench-marking study would have met its objective if ideas of political measures applicable to the French system could result.


Claudine Hermann heartily thanks all the EPWS Board of Administration members for their detailed and valuable answers, that allowed her to write this report: in particular Brigitte Mühlenbruch (Germany), Dora Groó (Hungary), Liisa Husu (Norway and Sweden), Dalia Satkovskiene (Baltic States), Maria Curto (Portugal); and the EPWS members Muriel Besson and Helene Fueger (Switzerland).


Read the Full Introduction (English)

Download the Full Report (French)


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