EPWS Position Paper on Horizon 2020


The European Platform of Women Scientists EPWS welcomes Horizon 2020, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation and financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

“Designed to support the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative “Innovation Union”, the basic principle of “Horizon 2020” and [its] rules is to adopt a much more strategic approach to research and innovation.”

Horizon 2020 is part of the drive to create new growth and new jobs in Europe; we will need at least one million more researchers by 2020. To ensure and achieve scientific excellence and technological innovation in this upcoming research effort, the European Union must significantly increase the number of female researchers among these one million additional researchers. That means, a key for the realization of Europe 2020’s Flagship initiative “Innovation Union” is the use of the full potential and scientific excellence of women scientists. Therefore the EU has to make major efforts to open the programme to more participants, especially to more women scientists from across Europe. To reach this goal the preconditions of the new programme have to be free of gender-blindness.

This is indeed recognized in Horizon 2020 which states in particular that:

    • “Gender equality shall be promoted in particular by supporting changes in the organization of research institutions and in the content and design of research activities – that means structural changes, changing the science culture”.
    • “Gender will be addressed as a cross-cutting issue in order to rectify imbalances between women and men, and to integrate a gender dimension in research and innovation programming and content. Horizon 2020 includes specific provisions to incentivize such cross-cutting actions”.
    • “Horizon 2020 shall ensure the effective promotion of gender equality and the gender dimension in research and innovation content”.


These general statements must be supported by practical actions to become reality.

In the present position paper, we first stress that excellence requires women participation and gender research. Then we propose targets for women participation in Horizon 2020. This has consequences on the Rules of Participation in Horizon 2020, particularly on Articles 12 (Proposals) and 15 (Evaluation). Finally, we analyze the difficulties experienced by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), such as the European Platform of Women Scientists EPWS, when they want to participate in European projects and we propose improvements.


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