Women and science

Gender equity in techno-scientific careers has become one of the central issues in the research and innovation policies agenda of national and international institutions.

In the framework of the Gender Action Plan launched by two European project on genomics, SABRE and EADGENE, Observa has promoted a survey among research personnel involved in the networks with two aims.

The first objective is monitoring researchers’ perception and attitudes towards gender issues and potential differences in recruitment, career advancement and private life choices between men and women in research. Secondly, the survey aims to compare men and women’s attitudes in order to highlight critical features of women role in research processes and identify potential causes of inequality and measures to deal with gender issues.

At this stage only preliminary results are available. Data collected until now suggest the need to foster women willingness to fight for their careers in order to gain work opportunities in an environment where scientific research lacks of a merit system, which can promote an effective gender equity.

Nowadays, women are numerous in several science fields. Nevertheless they are too often relegated in administrative or subordinate roles, while men cover leading positions. According to female researchers interviewed, such differences and imbalances are due both to the difficulty to conciliate a scientific career with child care and to a more submissive attitude of women compared to men. Women themselves appear to limit their careers advancements: they prefer to renounce to reach leading positions, if this process requires to perform aggressive behaviours.

A deeper and more detail analysis which is in process will help to understand if such perceptions and opinions could be found in wider research contests and are shared by a large researchers community.

Preliminary results were presented by Valeria Arzenton at the Mind the Gap 2007, the European workshop on gender equity in scientific research, held in Lodi in June, 28th 2007. More information on the workshop and on researches concerning gender equity are available on the Association Fair official website www.fair-research.eu.

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