Yesterday, the European Research Council (ERC) Scientific Council announced a plan to redress the gender balance among ERC grantees.
Since it started giving out funding in 2007, the ERC has allocated about a fifth of its grants to women. Altogether, women represent about 26% of the early-career researchers who obtained a Starting Grant over the years and 12% of the senior researchers who obtained an Advanced Grant. “Broadly speaking, these ratios also reflect the proportion of women in research careers in Europe,” the press release stated. But the ERC has decided it needs to be better.
The ERC Scientific Council Gender Equality Plan aims to tackle all gender issues along the application pipeline. First, the ERC will try and raise awareness of its grants among excellent female researchers in order to get more of them to apply; up to now, 30% of starting-grant applications and 14% of advanced-grant applications have come from women, according to the press release. Next, the ERC wants to guard against gender biases during the evaluation process by: making sure eligibility and evaluation criteria are fair for men and women; including more women on ERC evaluation panels; discussing gender issues with the panels (such as how to evaluate career breaks and unconventional research career paths). The ERC will also try and encourage the ERC grantees’ host institution to pay for family-related costs, like childcare, for ERC grantees.
“Women and men are equally able to perform excellent frontier research. The aim is to take into account and confront structural gender differences, so that the ERC can fulfil its mission to support excellent frontier researchers across Europe, irrespective of nationality, gender, or age,” the ERC Scientific Council stated in its gender equality plan.