Wanted: more women in science and technology

Across the EU, women account for just 13 % of the information science technology and digital workforce. In a bid to improve the gender balance, EU project EQUAL-IST has developed tools to boost female inclusion in university research careers across the sector.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 2 March 2020  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Gender Equality
Human resources & mobilityCareers & mobility
Information societyInformation technology
International cooperation
Research policyHorizon 2020
Science in societyPeople in science
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Finland  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Lichtenstein  |  Lithuania  |  Portugal  |  Ukraine
Add to PDF "basket"

Wanted: more women in science and technology

Image

© Naufal #317011810 source: stock.adobe.com 2020

Throughout the EU, not enough women are attracted to careers in information, science and technology. While women are better represented at university level – more than 25 % of graduates are female – as careers progress, the proportion of women in the information science technology (IST) and digital workforce drops to just 13 %.

Looking to develop the sustainable, long-term inclusion of women in the IST sector, the EU-funded project EQUAL-IST explored why there are such high levels of gender imbalance in the IST research sector, and what can be done to improve this, starting at the university level.

‘Women are still the minority, especially among academic leaders, and the lack of women in IST careers has negative consequences on the potential for innovation and the mobilisation of human capital. We need to foster permanent inclusion,’ says Vasiliki Moumtzi, co-founder of ViLabs and EQUAL-IST project coordinator.

Finding a better balance

Starting out in 2016, EQUAL-IST worked with universities in Italy, Finland, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania and Portugal. With the help of Maria Sangiuliano, a gender equality expert from the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice, the project identified the hurdles to achieving a better male-to-female balance in each of the partner universities.

Problems identified across the universities included a lack of women in decision-making positions on university governance boards and inadequate childcare facilities for lecturers with children. Another barrier was inflexible working schedules for lecturers preventing them from fitting work around their parenting duties.

A further challenge identified in Ukraine was a lack of awareness about how to solve the gender imbalance problem. Although students and lecturers were aware of gender inequality, they did not know that actions could be taken to improve the gender balance.

Better inclusion

EQUAL-IST developed a toolkit designed to enable a greater number of female researchers, lecturers and students to be included in the university environment. The tools include boosting female participation on university boards and in decision-making positions, and the implementation of flexible lecture schedules – for example, allowing lecturers to choose whether they hold lectures in the mornings, afternoons or evenings to suit their work-life needs.

The toolkit also says periods of part-time work should be encouraged, childcare facilities should be available on-site, possibilities to postpone exams according to the individual’s needs should exist, and job sharing should be promoted. A gender equality committee should also be appointed to outline the steps to improve the gender balance as well as monitor progress in the university. According to EQUAL-IST, all these measures should be accompanied by a campaign to raise awareness of the new initiatives.

During its research, EQUAL-IST found that the University of Bern in Switzerland has excellent work-life balance policies and could be considered as a good example to follow. Its policies include covering childcare costs so that researchers can attend meetings and conferences; breastfeeding and relaxation rooms; changing tables in toilets; high chairs in the cafeteria; and easy access to buildings for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Moreover, the university has signed a ‘family at the university’ charter to enshrine its work-life balance principles.

The project also developed a new online platform that allows both men and women in the digital and IST research field to communicate on issues they face and discuss gender equality in their institutions in an inclusive community.

‘Our work has prepared the ground for a future rise in female participation in IST careers. Gender equality will arrive gradually if the right structures are in place,’ Moumtzi concludes.

Project details

  • Project acronym: EQUAL-IST
  • Participants: Greece (Coordinator), Italy, Germany, Lichtenstein, Finland, Lithuana, Portugal, Ukraine
  • Project N°: 710549
  • Total costs: € 1 857 217
  • EU contribution: € 1 857 217
  • Duration: June 2016 to May 2019

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected




loading
Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project details