Over the next decades the general decrease in populations will affect all sectors of highe r education and research in Europe. Natural sciences are encountering increasing problems with recruitment, especially of female physicists students. It is a matter of utmost concern that well-qualified female scientists seldom reach top-level positions to the same extent as their male counterparts and often leave the research system prematurely. This is a fact that has been well established in a number of studies, no tably the SHE-figures, the Helsinki Group Reports, and the ETAN- and ENWISE Reports. The overall picture is a dismal one; yet an interesting configuration of cultural diversity appears on a gendered map of physicists. It is comparatively easier to attract female students in eastern and southern European countries than in the north, and career paths seem to follow different patterns. The primary objective of the UPGEM project is to identify relevant local cultural-historical processes behind "brain-drains" of female physicists, who are leaving the field despite having the same formal qualifications as their male colleagues. This implies identifying the informal ways in which careers are shaped in various cultural contexts, and their relationship to "the four P's" (prestige, payment, pleasure, policy). Through close-up (qualitative) studies of the working environment of female academic staff in physics institutes at six universities distributed along the north/south and the east/west axes of the European map, the project will provide a complement to the statistical surveys and recommend more effective policies countering brain-drain. This is not just a question of gender equality. The saving effect of keeping just 10% of potential female physicist brain-drainer s throughout Europe would amount to many millions of euros. The project is a pilot study, and it's the aspiration to follow up the research in the form of an IP in FP7.'
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