Last Sunday (11th of February) was the International Day for Women and Girls in Science. Organised by the UN to highlight and encourage women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) it is important to pay attention to the many great women scientists working on ground-breaking research today!
Gender is a very important subject for us, with most of the team (currently) made up of women. So here at Sparks & Co we decided to take a look at how women are contributing to science in EU projects that are aiming to solve humanity’s greatest challenges!
Women working in EU projects
It is a very outdated view to think that there are not many women working in STEM, including in EU projects! We work with many smart, talented women in both the proposal and implementation stage of EU projects.
Source: UNESCO Science Report, Towards 2030. Well done Southeast Europe for having the highest rate of women researchers!
STEM is seen less and less as just a “man’s game” but is becoming more inclusive and attractive for bright women from all cultures to participate in and contribute their research. Though there are still controversies about attitudes to women in science (comments by renowned scientists towards women in research, strange peer review “criteria” and general sexism in the workplace) these women are fighting back with more power than before! See the reaction to Tim Hunt’s comment and the hilarious #distractinglysexy hashtag on Twitter. Campaigns such as Women and Girls in Science day are now trying to show the benefits of science, steering away from the pandering campaign of earlier years, such as the “Science, It’s a Girl Thing!” video (because women aren’t just interested in researching lipstick and high heels in the lab is a PPE nightmare!).
Horizon 2020 Guidelines
A great aspect of Horizon 2020 is the Gender Equality criteria. Each project must pay attention to gender issues, both in the consortium (i.e. to not have one gender exclusively represented in the consortium) and in the research itself.
Many calls for proposals mention that analysing or including gender aspects of the research is a criterion that is not just a bonus but is integral to the project’s implementation. This is also not just for “gender-focused” projects (that I will discuss in the next point) but also in more technical research projects.
Currently, there are 120 projects on the Horizon 2020 Portal with a gender aspect. Of these, there are many projects focusing on gender as the core of the research and innovation. The fact that Europe is financing these large projects, with anything from hundreds of thousands to millions of euro shows that women in science is an incredibly important topic, and the European Commission is putting their money where their mouth is!
In conclusion, STEM is becoming an equal playing field. It is now less accepted to say that science is just for men, but there is a still a long way to go before achieving gender equality for all, be they female, male or another gender identification.
Do you think your consortium has a fair representation of gender? Are you working on a gender-based project? Let us know in the comments! For any communication needs for tailored audiences, such as different genders, socioeconomic situations or specific communities don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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