To maintain autonomy and ensure excellent research, decision-making within science should be based on meritocracy and individual scientific achievements. Scientific excellence, however, is not an absolute term but a composite of several determinants: publications, originality, innovative force etc. Gender studies of research policy presented in the report Gender and Excellence in the Making have revealed that the term excellence as applied today may hinder women in establishing scientific careers. The discourse on excellence needs to be reframed in such a way as to include all scientists, regardless of gender.
Gender studies of research policies are primarily carried out within the field of sociology, history and economics. As a result, researchers and decision-makers in other disciplines are not always well informed on their latest findings. We need to take the next step and transform the gained knowledge into practice. As pioneers, the life science community is taking the initiative to reframe the discourse on scientific excellence. The proposed conference will make the recent research within the field of scientific excellence available to stakeholders in life sciences.
This will enable an extended discussion taking the knowledge and experience gained by researchers in the field of gender and excellence into account. We will discuss the evaluation systems and parameters of excellence employed in a life scientist's career chain from a gender perspective. Topics for discussion include the roles of gatekeepers, the use of bibliometrics from a gender perspective, how to judge excellence in third-stream activities and gender differences in major grant programmes.
The meeting will follow up the discussions initiated in Florence 2003 and result in a raised awareness among life science decision- and policymakers, and researchers. We hope that the discussion initiated in Stockholm in 2006 will stimulate continued discussions on the topic throughout Europe.
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