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Improving the gender diversity management in materials research institutions

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Boosting the number of women in science

Increasing the number of women scientists has been an ongoing focus for European policy. There are many initiatives hoping to turn the gender imbalance around.

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One such project is the 'Improving the gender diversity management in materials research institutions' (Diversity) initiative, funded by the European Commission. The project intends to analyse the current situation for women in science and identify the reasons for their underrepresentation. Strengthening the role of women scientists in decision- making is seen as a key objective. The pan-European project is supported by 13 partners from 10 EU countries, and ensures diversity in studying the position of women scientists within various cultures. This also provides a unique insight into the internal and external factors, which may provide reasons for the gender imbalance within research institutions. Data collection has also included guided interviews based on gender biases, good practices and obstacles. The second stage entailed creating individual profiles based on the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. New guidelines and recommendations have already been devised to help increase transparency in recruitment, promotion and nomination procedures. Stage three of the project has been dedicated to raising awareness on gender and research. Local events have promoted high-profile speakers from industry and research, which has helped increase the visibility for women scientists within the scientific community and among stakeholders, decision-makers and the public. This in turn has generated news articles in print and online media and proved useful in promoting women scientists to top positions in research, as well as involving them in science policy. Overall the project has been able to intensify dialogue on the subject of gender inequality in science. This has been translated to both men and women whilst also explaining the advantages to mainstreaming both genders within the sector. The project has demonstrated that science excels when it is supported and fostered through gender diversity and improves European research and innovation systems. Where the Diversity project had a clear advantage in making things happen was with their alliance with the large number of competitive and strong institutions in the materials science community. This in turn has contributed to an institutional culture change.

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