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Quality Research and Innovation through Equality

European Gender Summit (8-9 November 2011, Brussels)

The Green Paper “From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding” presented by the European Commission on February 2011 raised a question about the presence of women in science: What actions should be taken at EU level to further strengthen the role of women in science and innovation? This led to a public consultation coordinated by genSET for which 300 individual and institutional responses were received from 42 countries. The European Gender Summit was organized to present and discuss the results and to announce a policy manifesto on “Integrated Action on the Gender Dimension of Research.”

In the poster exhibition 54 initiatives that focus on gender equality in science were presented, some of them will be introduced in the GAP area of the EGI website. The athmosphere of the event was very friendly and many people were brought to brainstorm about best practices. I particularly liked the idea that was introduced by Unilever: workers are allowed to leave for home early, so they can be with their family between 15.00-19.00 and they are asked to work from home online after 19.00. Besides discussions after sessions, at the end of the first day the Gender&Innovation Networking Café gave participants the chance to discuss 3 of 10 topics. 10 moderated tables were set up an at each table 10 people were able to have a conversation in 20 minutes, and three rounds were available, so after finishing one conversation one could go to another table. I find this concept (called World Café) highly attractive as complex topics can be addressed in a casual and open manner. If I wanted to choose one important message, I would go for this: Working in mixed gender teams means more flexible discourse and more creative solutions. To see how “mixed” our EGI community is, some statistics will be soon available on our website and everyone will be invited to comment on them and also to share opinions on European projects that want to disseminate and facilitate gender balance.

 

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