The 8th edition of the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) “Sharing science: toward new horizons”, took place in Toulouse, France, from 9 till 14 July 2018. It was a real chance for the French association Femmes & Sciences (F&S) as its local group is very active and strong.
ESOF (Euroscience Open Forum), founded in 2004 by EuroScience, is the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe. It is dedicated to scientific research and innovation and offers a unique framework for interaction and debate for scientists, innovators, policy makers, business people and the general public. Each two-year, it attracts about 4.000-5.000 participants from the whole world.
Its format is rather different from the usual scientific meetings, where future orientations take place and where we have the opportunity to discuss between different communities. It is why many EPWS members have been motivated to discuss different important issues.
During the whole week, extended for some of them to the whole summer, our French colleagues of F&S Toulouse, participated to the animation of «Science in the City» and to an exhibition at the department store «Galeries Lafayette» on local women scientists, presenting their portrait and activity.
In addition, two round tables proposed by the EPWS association members Femmes & Sciences (F&S) and Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) were accepted and respectively took place on 10/7/2018 and 13/7/2018.
On 10/7/2018, a team from Belgium, France, Portugal and UK, chaired by Sylvaine Turck-Chièze (F&S president for the last 4 years), addressed the question: “Why do so few girls choose fundamental science and engineering?”
The round table participants (Justine Jacquemin from Brussels BeWiSe; Ester Mander from IoP East region of England; Isabel Lousada from Lisbon, AMONET; Nadine Halberstadt new president, Eric Josselin and Sylvaine Turck-Chièze from F&S) first introduced themselves. Then the well-known European countries data on girls’ and boys’ orientation toward science and technology have been recalled together with the incentive initiatives, since less than 20-30% of girls choose these disciplines.
Next, the specific actions of the represented associations have been commented.
The most interesting part was the findings and consequent actions: it is important to keep girls interested by science and for that to discuss with them not too late (12-14 instead 15-17). Girls are not motivated by the same things as boys so specific initiatives are welcome: inspiring scientific women in text books, specific presentation of the jobs of engineers or computing, later mentoring to avoid the “leaky pipeline” phenomenon. Exchanging with pupils is not sufficient; this needs to be extended to professors, parents and the global society to explicit the reason of the need for a better equality in science and technology in Europe. Men’s – and not only women’s – involvement is more and more recommended…
The round table on 13/7/2018 organized for Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) by Giovanna Avellis (“Family Friendly Research to boost Women Research Career”) was focused on how to address Work Family Conflicts (WFC) and balance professional and personal life in careers development in research.
An overview on the state of the art was given: it stressed the EU Parliament resolution of 9.9.2015 on “Women‘s careers in science and universities and glass ceilings encountered”, the report of Serenella Molendini (European Center of Research for Sustainable Innovation), one of the speakers, and the report of Elena Gentile (member of EU Parliament) on “Work Life Balance in Europe”. Examples of some good practice adoption have been presented, involving France, Scandinavian Countries, Germany, United Kingdom and Finland.
The full paper on this round table has been published on EUROSCIENCE and is available at this link: https://www.euroscientist.com/family-friendly-research-to-boost-science-careers-of-women/