Interview of the Month: NKC (06/2018)

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 June is the Czech National Contact Centre for Gender and Science (NKC)

For NKC, Marcela Linkova, the head of the Centre at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, has accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.

Contact this association:

Contact this member:

Association website:



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

NKC: Since 2001 we have been working to advance gender equality in Czech research and higher education and address challenges facing specifically women researchers.


EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?

NKC: We work at several levels.

-We do research into various aspects of gender in research careers and governance of research, and use these findings as a basis for policy recommendations we deliver to various stakeholders.

-We publish studies and position papers, including an annual statistical report on the position of women in Czech research.

-We cooperate with bodies of the state administration to mainstream gender into relevant national policies and strategies.

-We petition research funding organizations to remove conditions and rules that have negative impact on women, especially due to their motherhood.

-We also work with universities and research institutes, providing consultations and advice on implementing gender equality actions.

-We have a Working Group for Change to facilitate mutual learning and exchange on cultural and institutional changes in the Czech Republic.

-We also run a mentoring programme for early-career researchers to support their professional development and networking.

– And finally, we work to increase awareness in the academic community, as well as general public, about gender equality in research through lectures, debates and campaigns, including the UN day of women and girls in science, the Researchers’ Night and Academia Film Olomouc.

Marcela Linkova opening the 4th national conference on gender in research and innovation, 2016


EPWS: What is the history of NKC, in a few words?

NKC: We launched it in 2001 in direct response to the initiative at the EU level and in particular the establishment of the Helsinki Group on Gender in Research and Innovation in 1999. Since the start we cooperated with the Ministry of Education as the responsible national authority; in 2009, during the Czech Presidency to the EU, we helped to establish the Milada Paulova Award for lifelong achievement in research, conferred annually to a prominent woman researcher. In 2005 we negotiated a change in the eligibility rules in the Grant Agency of the Czech Academy of Sciences and in the Czech Science Foundation which put at disadvantage people caring for small children. We continued this pressure and, because of lack of response, we filed a complaint in 2011 with the Ombudsman against discriminatory rules in the Czech Science Foundation, and we were vindicated. In recent years we have been increasingly working with research organizations.

NKC gender and science team at the launch of a book Changing Course: On Leaving Academic Research (2016) edited by Katerina Cidlinska featuring fifteen interviews with early-career researchers who decided to leave academic research path during their doctorate or in the post-doc phase


EPWS: Could you explain the organisation of your association?

NKC: NKC is a research department at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. We are thus not a legal person. We are broadly two teams: some of us focus predominantly on research while others concentrate on the international cooperation, national policy level, cultural and institutional changes in research and higher education institutions and communication and outreach.


EPWS: What are its recent achievements?

NKC: We have an English book out which examines the various facets of the neoliberal transformation of Czech research and its gender impacts. We also have a coordination of a H2020 project GENDERACTION, the goal of which is to create a policy platform to promote ERA Priority 4, which is gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research and innovation.

Katerina Cidlinska, who has long coordinated our mentoring, was elected the chair of the eument-net, a European network of mentoring programmes. And I have been elected the chair of the ERAC Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation, and am keen to advance the agenda at the EU level.


EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?

NKC: Ahead of us is the negotiation of Framework Programme 9 and all of us in Europe should focus on negotiations at national level. We are also in the final year of a unique research project in the Czech Republic into the working conditions in research and higher education. This will be the first time that representative data will be available in the country. Based on the findings we will be developing policy recommendations over the summer, which we will first discuss at the Fifth National Conference in Gender in Research in October. And we have managed to invite Angela Saini as a keynote speaker for the conference and have her highly influential book Inferior translated into Czech.


EPWS: Are you collaborating with other EPWS members?

NKC: We are very active internationally because we believe that international cooperation gives us strength, inspiration and opportunities to learn. We mostly cooperate through joint project proposals, by organizing conferences or conference panels or simply by exchange at various venues.


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

I see the most important aspect in the networking and lobbying potential. It is important to have a European level umbrella organization, which can address policy makers and is represented by highly respected colleagues.


eument-net General Assembly in Prague, November 2017
Kick-off meeting of GENDERACTION, Horizon 2020 project, May 2017
NKC team members and nuclear physicist Katerina Falk (in the middle) at a visit to ELI Beamlines for mentees in a mentoring programme for secondary school students, May 2016


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,