Workshop: Balancing Professional and Personal Life in Research Career Development

Work Life Balance in Europe

This Workshop at Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) Conference 2018 (Université Catholique de Louvain -Leuven Catholic University- Belgium, 2/2/2018) underlined how a key element for a successful career of European researchers is played by Work Family Conflict (WFC): this open issue of enquiry in Human Resource management research is particularly relevant for the career development of researchers, especially of women pursuing a career in science. The invited Workshop speakers were the following:

  • Gianna Avellis and Manuela Giovannetti (MCAA)
  • Claudia Dobrinski (EURODOC)
  • Lucia Martinelli (EPWS – Donne e Scienza)
  • Francesca Grippaudo (ITWIIN – ITalian Women Innovators and Inventors Network)
  • Marie-Alix Thouaille (VITAE)


During the working group meeting on Febr. 4, the participants of GEMS WG agreed to adopt a more inclusive policy to engage members in the activities, in particular concerning gender and age.


G.Avellis introduced the Workshop pointing out how, as far as employment and reconciliation of WFC are concerned, female employment rates remain low especially in Southern Europe and Eastern Europe and in general even more for women with low education. Antidiscrimination laws have been adopted, but gender gaps are still large. Lack of services for children and above all for the elderly, combined with rigid work arrangements, make it hard to reconcile work and family life.

Since 2016, Europe has several resolutions, recommendations, and directives to improve the conditions for employment of women through Work Life Balance (WLB) measures. The European Pillar of Social Rights (March 2017) is acting as a compass for a new convergence process towards better life and work conditions in Europe: Gender Equality and access to Labour Markets are primary among the principles of the Pillar. Moreover, the proposal of a new directive of the European Parliament on Balancing Professional and Personal Life is very important: it encompasses parental leave (both maternity and paternity leave), leave for caregivers and flexible working modes.

Therefore, on the one hand there is a need to guarantee the availability and universal access to quality educational and care services at low costs, as well as assistance services for the other dependents; on the other hand it becomes necessary to foster an equitable sharing of the children care and the other dependents between women and men and at the same time to promote flexible working hours to be adopted in different life stages. This will allow retaining the talents and the career advancement.

During the working group meeting on Febr. 4, the participants of GEMS WG agreed to adopt a more inclusive policy to engage members in the activities, in particular concerning gender and age.


In this session we addressed the dynamics of WFC and Work Life Balance. Furthermore, young early-career researchers can benefit from women scientists who act as role models and have attained a healthy WLB that boosts their careers in Science: our session discussed both the opportunities and the obstacles appearing over the course of European researchers’ careers and taking their scientific mobility into account, such as Dual Career. It was underlined how, due to the international dimension of science, particularly in the computing and communication field, modern communication technologies allow for more flexible integration of work and family roles than ever before, by for example teleworking and smart working, and will help to boost scientific careers.

Further recent advances in computer technology can offer new ways to respond and understand the WFC and how they can be applied to foster a career in science. The Workshop aim was to share the personal experiences of the speakers in WLB and underline the current State-of-the-Art of WLB in Europe.

Following this workshop, on February 4th took place the working group meeting concerning the gender questions, namely “Gender Equality and Diversity for Mobile Researchers in Science, Social Sciences and Humanities Working Group” (GEMS WG). During this meeting the new board was elected: it is composed of Magdalini Theodoridou (Chair), Nadia Metoui (Vice-Chair), Tanya Romacho (Secretary), Gianna Avellis (Treasurer), Yana Wade, Lucia Martinelli and Asunción López Varela Azcárate. The main goals of the activity were agreed, which will be to continue promoting gender equality and diversity for researchers, to develop new activities and new partnerships for the WG, to engage more male colleagues in the group activities, and to improve the communication and interactions between GEMS WG members and members of other associations and groups with similar objectives.

G.Avellis, MCAA and EPWS


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