Producing gender equality in science
Research agendas often fail to take the specific
needs of women into account. Women represent half
of the student population, but hold only 10% of the
senior positions in academia and even less in industry.
If society as a whole is to better understand and
accept the developments in science and technology,
specific measures must be taken to address both the
under-representation of women in science, and the
lack of attention paid to gender differences within
In 1999, the Commission launched an action plan on
women and science, which set out a strategy to promote
research by, for and about women, in co-operation
with Member States and other key actors. This has
proven a successful approach and will be maintained
and developed in the next phase of activity.
New actions will be underpinned by reinforcing measures
that are already in place. The Helsinki
Group on Women and Science (the Helsinki Group
was established in November 1999. Its members are
civil servants involved in promoting women in scientific
research at national level in the Member States and
Associated States) will continue to provide the framework
for pooling national policy experiences and exchanging
good practice and will set out a comprehensive strategy
for longer term co-operation. The Gender Watch System
will be stepped up to improve the integration of the
gender dimension within the Framework Programme and
research policy in general.
This approach will be complemented by specific research
to improve the understanding of gender and science
issues in Europe and to develop tools to support the
Against this background, which will continue to evolve,
the Commission will launch four new initiatives, as
announced at its conference on Gender and Research
in November 2001.
Establishing a European platform of women scientists
There is a need for a framework under which to exchange
experience and good practice while facilitating co-operation
and consultation across sciences. This would create
the mechanism for involving women scientists more
actively in the European policy process, by disseminating
information and supporting lobbying and advocacy work.
It would empower women scientists in their careers,
with training actions and networking activities, a
database of role models and mentors, campaigns and
A European platform will be set up to bring together
networks of women scientists and organisations committed
to gender equality in scientific research.
Monitoring progress towards gender equality in
Monitoring progress in the field of gender equality
cannot be achieved without appropriate indicators.
The Helsinki Group on women and science has identified
a specific need in the following key policy objectives:
increasing the number of women in science; reducing
both horizontal segregation (whereby women are concentrated
in certain sectors or disciplines) and vertical segregation
(whereby women tend to be in lower hierarchical positions);
eliminating pay gaps; and ensuring fairness and equity.
A set of gender indicators will be produced in
co-operation with the statistical correspondents of
the Helsinki Group on women and science to measure
progress towards gender equality in European research.
Mobilising women scientists in the private sector
The private sector accounts for 60% of European research.
It is a resource for innovation and represents a wide
spectrum of scientific activity. So far, the activities
have mainly covered the research undertaken within
universities and research centers. It is of the utmost
importance to make sure that the situation of women
in research carried out by enterprises is also analysed.
An expert group will examine the role and place
of women in research carried out in the private sector,
identifying career patterns and examples of best practice,
and will formulate recommendations to increase gender
Promoting gender equality in science in the wider
The situation of women scientists in Central and
Eastern Europe has not been examined in depth to date.
However, the political, social and economic developments
in this region have created the need to analyse the
specific situations encountered by women scientists
in these countries, in order to provide them with
tools for approaching policy makers, and to promote
gender equality in the broader 'accession' context.
This analysis will be undertaken in full recognition
of the fact that there are lessons to be learned by
EU Member States also in this exercise.
A group of experts will examine the situation
facing women scientists in Central and Eastern Europe
and the Baltic States, and make recommendations for
further work, in particular through the Helsinki Group
on women and science and links with other appropriate