SAPGERIC Conference, Vilnius, Lithuania
Short Report and request to sign the conference recommendations
The SAPGERIC conference ‘Structural Change Promoting Gender Equality in Research Organisations’ was coordinated by European Platform of Women Scientists’ EPWS Board Member Prof. Dalia Šatkovskienė, of the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy and held in Vilnius, Lithuania on 21 -22 November 2013, under the auspices of the Lithuanian Presidency to the EU council.
There were over 200 participants, primarily from Europe, including the European Commission, who provided financial support.Delegates were welcomed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, H. E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, who has a science background herself.
In her keynote speech Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, stated that Genderbalance produces higher quality researchand joint efforts are essential if gender equality in research is to be attained. Bjorn Haugstad, from the Norwegian Ministry of Education & Research re-iterated that gender equality is a fundamental human right and failing to use the full talent of women is a waste of resources.
European research continues to suffer due to considerable loss and inefficient use of highly skilled women. Identifying the core problems obstructing positive change, sharing good practices and specific measures to rectify the current imbalance in gender equality were all issues discussed. Cultural change is needed and top level support is required.
The conference concluded that it is time to move from ‘Fix the Women’ solutions to ‘Fix the Institutions’.
To this end a series of recommendations from the conference to the EU Council and stakeholders has been drawn up and will be posted on the SAPGERIC website at http://www.sapgeric.eu2013.vu.lt/recommendations/ from 2nd December.
All members of the EPWS are cordially requested to sign.
|EPWS Board of Administration|
We heard that science and research were at the core of UNESCO mandate to promote gender equality. Media can often reinforce science as the domain of males. To help combat this perception, UNESCO are using women to write and publicise the News articles.
Nicole Ameline from UN CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) told us that women are the key drivers for change and also that women are more adversely affected by an economic crisis. So we need to empower women and call for a stand alone goal for women’s equality in each sector of society.
Carole Chapin of EURODOC said that it was important for science to stay attractive and free from discrimination in order to recruit more women to science careers. There is an essential need for women role models and they must have very high visibility.
Prof. Gutsun Saglamer, Chair of European Women Rectors Platform, from Istanbul Technical University, quoted Fullan & Scott (2009) ‘Universities with all their brainpower, are much more resistant to change than many other institutions. Universities are great at studying and recommending change for others, but when it comes to themselves, that is another matter.’….
Viviane Willis-Mazzichi from the European Commission, says the aim is threefold, with a focus on structural change in research institutions: – improve the recruitment and careers of female researchers – ensure gender-balance in decision-making – integrate the gender dimension in research content and programmes so, for instance, if two projects are similarly ranked for research etc, the funding should be allocated based on their gender balance rank.
Several referred to the ‘Leaky Pipeline’ – the famous scissors diagram that shows the drop-off in the number of women scientists as they move higher up the academic ladder, in spite of women achieving better results than men during the early career stage. For researchers, the number of publications is not a good comparison for women who have career breaks. Fairer criteria are needed; for example excellence in research. But what is excellence and how should it be quantified? Prof. Jadranka Gvozdanovic, from Heidelberg University, talked about the importance of Monitoring. She pointed out that life sciences, medicine and dentistry were dominated by women whereas engineering is almost all male. She emphasised that the leaky pipeline stages varied with the academic discipline so different ‘fixes’ were needed for different fields at different stages.
Prof. Teresa Rees, at Cardiff University and Leadership Foundation in HE, in UK – showed how they were able to modify the application process to achieve a higher number of women scientist applicants by being very specific in the advertising of posts and asking for the applicants’ best publications to be listed rather than providing a full list. Women often feel that they have too few publications to apply for a post. Being very specific in the job advert also made things much easier at the decision-making stage.
Prof. Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to European Commission, pointed out that if Europe is to compete in Research and Innovation at international level, then human resource is our prime asset. So we need the best men and the best women to deliver the ideas. We must demand that gender equality be central to every issue and not as a stand-alone topic.
EPWS Board of Administration