Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

ELSA — Result In Brief

Project ID: 31255
Funded under: FP6-SOCIETY
Country: Sweden

Gender equality and scientific excellence

To ensure quality of research in the field of life sciences, decision making needs to be based on individual qualifications and merits. A European initiative addressed whether gender equality applies in research excellence.
Gender equality and scientific excellence
It’s been shown that women progress into top positions in the scientific community more slowly than men. Managing gender dynamics in the life sciences area is vital for a diverse and innovative working environment. Reversal of this phenomenon requires a new system for career appraisal, more stimulating working environment for women and appropriate guidance for decision makers to promote gender equality.

The EU-funded initiative ‘Excellence in the life sciences area’ (ELSA) aimed to address the issue of gender and excellence in research. Partners set out to investigate and reframe the definition of scientific excellence which is usually determined by publications, originality and innovative force. A conference was organised where speakers addressed the aspects of excellence and gender during financing research, recruitment and evaluation of research proposals. The main recurring factors to achieve excellence were transparency and clear evaluation criteria. Also, valuable recommendations were provided to ensure transparency in scientific research.

Regarding gender equality in research, it was pointed out during the conference that although large gender differences were found in awarding of grants, lack of other related information hampered the correct evaluation of this information. A number of research funding bodies demonstrated how they encourage young female researchers to apply for grants. Additionally, a gender equality plan was presented in terms of the peer review process of grant applications.

Overall, during the ELSA conference the evaluation system and parameters of excellence in scientific research were discussed from a gender perspective. Awareness regarding gender differences in various aspects of life sciences was raised among researchers and people involved in decision and policymaking. It was encouraging to see that European research institutes were dedicated to ensuring gender balance and research excellence. Implementation of gender equality strategies will bring more opportunities to women in the field and at the same time enhance creativity and innovation across Europe.

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