The 5th Annual Seminar of AFDESRI took place in Paris, France, on January 17, 2020 and was hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. About 140 participants, mainly women, attended this event entitled “Women in ESRI (higher education, research and innovation): neither candidates, nor elected?”.
The seminar aimed to address the weak representation of women in leadership positions in the academic world and especially in those, such as university rectors, where they have to be elected. Today only 11 over 73 French universities have women as rectors ; a woman is at the head of 1 of the 18 large universities groupings and 3 women are at that of the 28 other important higher education institutions.
AFDESRI (Association pour les femmes dirigeantes de l’enseignement supérieur, de la recherche et de l’innovation, or, in English, Association for leader women in higher education, research and innovation) is a non-profit association founded in 2014 whose aim is to help promoting women to leadership positions in the academic world and to reinforce the role of women and gender equality in higher education, research and innovation in France. It is an EPWS full member.
One of the issues addressed in the seminar was a comparison between the access to leadership positions in the academic and the political worlds.
The seminar began with the presentation of new data, gathered by institutional networks, on the influence of recent parity laws on the presence of women in leadership positions in academia. These data were then commented by the -male- President of CPU, the French Conference of Universities rectors.
In the first round table, two distinguished women, former Ministers of Culture in preceding governments, Aurélie Filipetti and Françoise Nyssen, now respectively author/professor at IEP (Institut d’études politiques – Institute for political studies) Paris and editor, gave some insights to the participants on their previous political experience.
The second part of the seminar was also dedicated to the comparison of the situation of women in leadership positions in the academic and political worlds. It first gave the floor to a roundtable with three women professors being at the highest academic positions and a university professor specialist in political sciences and working on the question of women in politics, and then at the end of the seminar to Amélie de Montchalin, the current Secretary of State in charge of European Affairs.
The round tables allowed discussing with the participants in a warm and enthusiastic atmosphere. The seminar was followed by the association General Assembly ; the substantial increase of the number of AFDESRI members was pointed out, evidencing the association usefulness and the success encountered by the training sessions it is proposing to its members.
The programme and materials of the conference (in French) are available at this link: