Each month EPWS wants to focus on one of its Members in order to better let you know its characteristics and activities.
This month, the Member is the French association ECEPIE – Equal opportunity for women and men in engineering studies and careers in Europe
Yvonne Pourrat and André Béraud, cofounders of the ECEPIE association, have accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.
EPWS: If you wanted to describe your association in one sentence, what would you say?
YP & AB: It is an association of researchers originally from engineering schools in France, willing to promote women in engineering and sciences.
EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?
YP & AB: The objectives are:
Understanding why there are so few women in engineering
Understanding why it is so difficult for women to have careers in science and technology, especially in research
Elaborating action plans and monitoring their effects in research institutions
To keep permanently a European perspective
EPWS: Some words about the history of ECEPIE
YP & AB: ECEPIE was born about 15 years ago in Engineering Schools (Grandes Ecoles) in Lyon and Paris. The reason why we decided to choose an association instead of a more traditional academic structure (jeune équipe, laboratoire,. . . ) was that there were no possibilities at the time to build a research team on such a topic in one of the Schools, considering the small size of French Engineering Schools. Another reason was the fact that a consortium was being built around a team from Wuppertal University in Germany and was looking for partners. We joined it.
The first theme we worked on was to understand why so few young women with a scientific basic training (in France Baccalauréat Scientifique at the end of secondary education) choose engineering. Why are they reluctant to study and practice engineering?
Then our field of research moved to engineering careers and difficulties for women to get to the top in research organizations. We extended our field of research to science in general and engineering.
We worked in five successive EU funded projects: INDECS (2001-2002), WOMENG (2002-2005), PROMETEA (2005-2007), HELENA (2009-2011) and GenderTIME (2013-2016) and several regional projects (Mairie de Paris, Région Ile de France and Région Rhône-Alpes).
EPWS: Could you explain the organization of your association?
YP & AB: The organization of our association is very simple and respects the rules which apply to French associations: there is a President, a Financial Officer (trésorier) and a Secretary. Once a year there is a general assembly of the association which elects three persons. Financial accounts are verified every year by an independent accountant (Expert Comptable and Commissaire aux comptes) which certifies that accounts are correct.
The work is done by volunteers, members of the association, who vary depending on the project and on what has to be done. The number of members has been very stable along the years as well as the structure and organization of the association.
The association has an office in Paris in the “Maison des associations du 6° arrondissement” (house of associations provided as a public city service) where members can meet and work. Its funding depends on research contracts and funds allowed for specific projects (organization of conferences, edition of books, participation in conferences. . .)
EPWS: What are its main recent realizations?
YP & AB: The main realizations of ECEPIE were:
Its participation in EU funded projects INDECS, WOMENG, PROMETEA, HELENA and GenderTIME, between 2001 and today (the GenderTime project is still running), ECEPIE was coordinator of three of the projects and scientific coordinator of two of them.
The creation in 2013 of the “Réseau francilien Egalité Hommes/Femmes dans l’enseignement supérieur et la recherche” (Région Ile de France network for equality between men and women in higher education and research). A publication of its work and its recommendations for designing action plans was published in 2015. The ambition is to disseminate examples and ideas about measures for equality as largely as possible in the Ile de France region (Paris) and beyond.
A series of conferences in collaboration with EPWS France started to be organized in 2015 about the networks of women scientists. The first conference was on December 10 ans a next one will be in May 2016.
ECEPIE belong to the network of French associations member of EPWS. Think tank about the strategic importance of the network of women scientists.
EPWS: What are your projects for the coming months?
YP & AB: The organization of the GenderTime project final international conference in Paris in September 29th and 30th , 2016. Results from the four years of action plans for equality in seven higher education institutions in different countries in Europe will be presented and discussed by experts of the field from all over the world
Second phase of the “Réseau francilien pour l’égalité H/F” project with more institutions involved in the Paris area.
EPWS. Is there a relationship between your association and the other EPWS members?
YP & AB: Yes, there are a strong one at the national level with the other French associations members of EPWS. We meet together once a year and we decide the actions that we will launch during the year with “Femmes & sciences”, “Femmes et Mathématiques” , “Mnémosyne”, “Femmes Ingénieurs”, particularly.
EPWS. What do you expect from EPWS? In what ways can it help you develop your action?
YP & AB: EPWS has been, and still is, a very important forum for exchanging ideas, experiences and projects. It gives the opportunity to meet actors in the field from lots of different countries in Europe.
EPWS is an important agent for lobbying at the EU level, for expressing the point of view of women about (the absence of) equality in sciences and technology, for taking stands on important questions relevant to that purpose, for informing EU institutions about research and knowledge concerning women in ST.