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gender equality in science, technology and engineering research

ICJW European Chairwoman Liliane Seidman attended the European Parliament in Brussels on 29 and 30 November 2012, to take part in the 2nd European Gender Summit. The theme was Developing Systematic Implementation Strategy to Advance EU Policy on Gender Equality in Science, as part of Horizon 2020 European Research Area and Innovation Union. There were 400 participants from 30 countries representing over 200 science institutions and other organizations. It was an interesting experience to be among a professional group of mostly women who are fighting for Gender Equality in Science, Technology and Engineering Research. 
Excellence, relevance and impact are the keywords in research and innovation. The women cannot advance on these without advancing on gender equality both in research content and how research is performed. Grants are more favorable to men, family status influences women’s career in Science and Research especially if they want to present a PhD. Although 50% of PhDs are awarded to women, only 8% apply to the European Patent Office. Women have to work harder than men to achieve the same result. Women react differently to toxicology than men. There is also sexual harassment in Universities and Institutes of Science; therefore women have been dealing with Human Rights, different cultures and backgrounds. 
There is still today women’s discrimination to reach top level jobs, bias in promotions, in articles to be published and in fund raising.
Three major recommendations came out of this 2 days high level platform for dialogue between the scientist’s policy makers and gender research scholars who agreed on the best gender equality strategies for science.
  • Gender Equality and national research programs should include specific conditions for addressing gender issues in project proposals. 
  • The processes used for awarding research grants should be scrutinized for possible sources of gender bias. 
  • The innovation Union Scoreboard needs a gender equality indicator. 
Europe could be more focused in its scientific endeavor if it deploys fully the talents of both women and men and recognize their different needs and preferences as a matter of quality in research and innovation process and in creating markets for science knowledge. 

As a conclusion, the Commission’s proposal for Horizon 2020 includes promoting gender equality in research which means improving gender balance in decision-making, involving more women as scientists at all levels and integrating the gender dimension in research content.

By helping women reach their full potential in science, technology and innovation, we include them and their ideas in enhance growth and creating more jobs and a better society.