Interview of the Month: Marie Curie Alumni Association (05/2017)

Every month, for you, EPWS presents the characteristics and activities of one Member Association.

Read all the previous Interviews with our Members here

Our member for May is the European association Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) – Gender Equality for Mobile Researchers in Science (GEMS) Working Group (WG)


For Marie Curie Alumni Association, Giovanna Avellis –senior researcher at InnovaPuglia SpA, Valenzano, Bari, Italy, has accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.

Contact this association: Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA)

Contact this member: Giovanna Avellis:

Association website:


EPWS: If you wanted to describe your association in one sentence, what would you say?

G.A: An Association providing high-quality services to enhance research and professional collaboration among researchers, including women scientists.

EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?

G.A: The non-profit purpose of the MCAA is to promote and exploit, in the broadest sense, the full potential of the community of researchers who have benefitted in terms of mobility from the People programme of the “People” 7th Framework Programme of the European Community for Research, Technological Development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013), its successors (in the future) and its predecessors (from past Framework Programmes) and to foster greater public awareness of European research.

In order to achieve this non-profit purpose, the MCAA may develop, alone or in collaboration with third parties, directly or indirectly, all activities related, directly or indirectly, to this purpose. The MCAA is active in Europe and other parts of the world, by seeking to, in particular but not limited to :

  • encourage networking, cooperation and mutual understanding among Members from different countries, sectors of the economy and across scientific disciplines;
  • foster global relationships as ambassadors within the world-wide research and innovation community, with particular emphasis on the Marie Curie experience of international and inter-sector mobility;
  • serve as a forum of debate, enabling Members to promote the values of the Association and to enhance their own careers and the careers of other Members;
  • support the dissemination of the outputs of the Members’ work across disciplines and internationally.


Programme of the Workshop « Promote the female leadership through Role Models across Research, Industry and Business », University of Bari, Italy, organised with BPW, ITWIIN, EUWIIN, MCAA, MCFA, Universities of Bari and of Salento, May 2016.

EPWS: what is the history of MCAA, in a few words?

G.A.: The Marie Curie Alumni Association, established in 2012 as a restricted access web portal, is now a thriving organisation of over 8500 members spread across five continents.

EPWS: Could you explain the organization of your association?

G.A.: The MCAA is governed by an 11-members Board which is directly elected by the MCAA membership.The MCAA is currently comprised of 22 geographical chapters and 10 working groups, and MCAA members engage with each other primarily through networking meetings and training events organized by these chapters and working groups. In addition, the MCAA organises an annual Conference and General Assembly with upwards of 500 participants. Membership of the MCAA is free of charge and open to any past or present beneficiary of research funding from a Marie (Skłodowska-)Curie Action (MSCA), a programme of the European Commission specifically designed to encourage international mobility among researchers. Around 100 000 researchers have already benefitted from the MSCAs, and this number is rising fast.

The MCAA web-portal is the main platform for interaction among Marie Curie Alumni. The following services are available to MCAA members (i.e. when registered and logged-in):

  • Funding: the MCAA offers opportunities to members to access funding to assist their individual efforts in building and promoting this Alumni community.
  • Alumni Directory: members can find other researchers through the on-line directory or seek out members in a specific location or area via the map-based search. Each member is encouraged to keep their own on-line profile up-to-date.
  • Group activities: The MCAA currently has nine thematic working groups and 22 geographical chapters. More chapters will be founded in regions with a sufficient concentration of existing MCAA members or eligible participants. These working groups and chapters organize networking events, organizational meetings and training workshops for the benefit of their members, and for the research community in general. Members can also create or join specific on-line groups to discuss common interests.
  • Sharing information: There is a News page offering access to the latest news about the EU research area and a Calls page offering information about EU calls for proposals. An Events page offers a calendar of events of potential interest to members, and allows members to share their own events with others. MCAA members also benefit from a three-monthly on-line newsletter as well as an alumni magazine, “Irradium”.
  • Employment opportunities: The Jobs page offers a range of information about open research-related posts across Europe.


MCAA GEMS Working group members at the Workshop « Promote the female leadership thorugh Role Models across Research, Industry and Business », University of Bari, Italy, organised with BPW, ITWIIN, EUWIIN, MCAA, MCFA, University of Bari and University of Salento, May 2016

Funding and support for the MCAA is provided by the European Commission (Directorate General for Education and Culture), in the form of a service contract set up (following a public call for tender) with a contractor (presently a consortium of two commercial companies, INOVA+ and Intrasoft International) who undertakes a range of actions to assist in the creation, development and running of the MCAA.

The MCAA has promoted the creation of Chapters in different regions as a way of facilitating the communication with its members and engage them in the development of the association. MCAA Chapters were established to:

  • encourage local networking and to establish a mutually-beneficial relationships between MCAA and its alumni within a defined country;
  • initiate activities that adds value to the Alumni network and inputs to the general body;
  • recruit, attract, support and facilitate connections between MC fellows and alumni;
  • sponsor and support activities that will enhance the image of MCAA.

The Working Groups (WGs) are flagship instruments to fulfil the MCAA mission and their objective is to support the overall aims of the association by proposing and executing activities in a given field.

The MCAA is committed to the promotion of women scientists and is sensitive to gender issues in science, and thus an additional “Women in Science” (WiS) working group has been established, namely the Gender Equality for Mobile researchers in Science (GEMS) Working Group.

MCAA poster at Gender Summit Europe 2015, Berlin

EPWS: What are its recent achievements?

G.A.: The GEMS working group has been active since September 2014 in order to promote mobility among the women scientists community, provide feedback from the European Community on policy issues regarding mobility in particular, and to collaborate with other associations and organizations active in the same fields.

The aims of GEMS are as follows:

  • Strengthening the role of women scientists in Europe and discourage discrimination and marginalization;
  • Promoting mobility among woman scientists in Europe and outside Europe;
  • Empowering women scientists in Europe by promoting policies which foster gender equality and scientific excellence in Science;
  • Promoting the role of woman at all levels and supporting their representation in leadership and decision-making positions in all fields;
  • Conducting and publishing studies, articles and analysis to support the development of policies which promote gender equality and empowerment in science
  • Networking with other WiS associations to create global forums and discussion platforms on common issues of interest.
  • Educating the next generation of women in science through training and mentoring schemes and disseminating Role Models inside MCAA.

Recent achievements of the GEMS WG are as follows:

  • e-book on Role Models of mobile women scientists of MCAA, in
  • Participation to WiS Conferences, such as Milan, Women World Conference, EXPO2015, October 2015, Lecce, PARIDEE Women Conference, University of Salento, Italy, September 2015, Bari, Stati Generali delle Donne, da EXPO2015 a Matera 2019 #insiemesipuò#, January 2016.
  • Support to write the HUMBOLDT project led by Ira Didenkulova on Networking and Mobility Support of women in science, which has been funded by HUMBOLDT University,
  • Workshop at University of Bari, Italy, May 2016 on “Promoting Female Leadership through Role Models across Research, Industry and Business”, in collaboration with ITWIIN, EUWIIN, MCFA, BPW, University of Bari and University of Salento (see pictures).
  • ESOF2016 session, Manchester, UK, July 2016 where GEMS WG won a session on “Leading by examples? The role models of mobility” (see pictures).
  • Gender Summit Conferences, such as Gender Summit Africa 2014, Gender Summit Europe Berlin 2015, Gender Summit Europe Brussels 2016, where the active participation has been supported by presentations and posters (see pictures).
  • Exploitation and Dissemination of GEMS WG results in several contexts, such as European Researchers Nights
  • Application to European projects in the context of HORIZON 2020 Science with and for Society programme, such as FELIA and ViaGEP project proposals on Gender Equality Plans.
  • Participation to ITWIIN 2016 Conference and Awards (Italian Women Innovators and Inventors Network), where two GEMS members were awarded as “Exceptionally Creative Women” and “Best researcher abroad” (see picture).
  • Communication: creation of a new @gems.mcaa Facebook page , and Twitter accounts @GEMS_MCAA and (the hashtag) #GEMS_MCAA.


MCAA poster to Gender Summit Europe 2016, Brussels

EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?

G.A.: The Future Activities of the GEMS WG will be:

  • Continue to participate to Women in Science conferences (ESOF2018, ITWIIN 2017/2018, EUWIIN 2019, …)
  • Organisation of EUWIIN 2017 Exhibition, Confrence and Awards (European Women Innovators and Inventors Network) at University of Bari, June 2017.
  • Organisation of a Workshop in Bari, June 2018, at Apulia Academy of Science on “Boosting career development and leadership”, with two sessions: “The role models for career development and leadership” and “How to improve gender equality in your organisation”.
  • Contribution to HUMBOLDT Award for Women Networking (organisation of Workshops, e-books on Role Models and portal )
  • Gender Summit Asia GS10, May 2017 and Gender Summit Europe 2017
  • Organisation of a Workshop in collaboration with HUMBOLDT project, Bremen, Germany, December 2017
  • GEMS session at EGU (European Geoscience Union) Conference in Vienna, 23-28 April 2017

EPWS: Are you collaborating with other EPWS members?

G.A.: Yes, with Lucia Martinelli from Associazione Donne e Scienza and former Marie Curie fellow, and Claudine Hermann, Vice-President of EPWS.

EPWS: What do you expect from EPWS? In what ways can it help you develop your action?

G.A.: EPWS can collaborate with MCAA GEMS WG in several issues:

  • collaborating to HUMBOLDT project by providing role models for the e-book and the portal database of role models
  • Joint participation to conferences in WiS, by proposing joint sessions such as in ESOF2018, Toulouse, July 2018.
  • Participation to the Workshops planned in GEMS WG, such as the Workshop in Bremen, Germany, December 2017, and the Workshop in Bari, Italy, June 2018.
  • Participation of some associations of EPWS to Science with and for Society project proposals, such as Science4Refugees, and Science Education outside the classroom.
  • Help the GEMS WG in exploitation and dissemination of GEMS WG results.
  • Participation of EPWS to the MCAA General Assembly and Conference, and conversely participation of MCAA GEMS WG to EPWS General Assembly.



Two MCAA GEMSS WG members are winners at ITWIIN 2016 Awards and Conference, CNR Bologna, Italy, November 2016.


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