Gender Equality in European Research


Earlier this month, the European Commission released its latest snapshot of the representation of women in science. The message that emerges from the oddly named report, , is hardly surprising: Women are still underrepresented in science. The gap appears to be closing—slowly—but more needs to be done if it is to close completely anytime soon.

Some of the report’s main findings:

[I]n the absence of proactive policies, it will take decades to close the gender gap and bring about a higher degree of gender equality.

    The report’s authors conclude that continued and expanded measures are necessary if progress is to continue. “There is no evidence of spontaneous reduction of gender inequality over time. All these policies, and many more, are needed to ensure that constant progress is made towards gender-equality in research and scientific careers.”

    “Some people think that if we just wait, it will get better, and that’s one way in which the She figures are extremely important,” says Curt Rice, vice president for research and development at the University of Tromsø in Norway, an E.U. associated country. “They show us that … if we believe it’s important to have women at the top, then we must act.” Rice led an initiative at the University of Tromsø that contributed to boosting the number of women in professorship positions from 9% to 30% in a decade. (You can read our Q&A with Rice here.)

    The 159-page report was put together by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission in collaboration with the Helsinki Group on Women and Science. Since 2003, the report has been published every 3 years.

    The completereport is available on the European Commission’s Web site.

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