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International Women's day 2022 - Are we closer to gender equality?

In ECOFUNCO project, many green-minded women scientists are involved with expertise in different disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics, materials science, engineering.

Although the latest numbers are comforting, women are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (so-called STEM fields). The average growth rate of women researchers was 3.9% between 2010 and 2018, indicating some positive changes over time.

The European Commission is acting to reach gender equality in employment. One of the measures implemented to foster the employment of women in research is the adoption of the Gender Equality Plan. To be eligible for Horizon Europe funding, the Commission implemented a Gender Equality Plan. Each organisation applying to Horizon Europe must comply with mandatory process-related requirements (such as having dedicated resources and support training and capacity building for the staff). According to the Commission, this will help ensure that research takes into account sex and gender differences, and thereby makes new products and services more relevant and beneficial to everyone in society.

This plan is meant to tackle the issue of underrepresentation of women in some research fields, as shown by the latest data in the European Research Area (ERA) Progress report and She Figures.


Some of the figures of women in sciences presented by the report She Figures (European Commission 2021)

Data highlight that implementation across the EU is uneven, and structural barriers to gender equality in research and innovation organisations persist. Women hold the 53,7% of higher Education Degrees in the EU, but only the 41,3% is an employed scientist or engineer.

Data on employment and engagement in high-level research are even more concerning: women are only the 26.2% occupying top academic positions and less than 10% of patents are presented by women.

The role of funded EU project not only involves the advancing on key fields of research, such as the switch to a bio-based economy, but are also fundamental when it comes to gender balance. ECOFUNCO project involves many women, the 46% of the total workforce to be precise.

Hopefully, in the future, gender equality will be the norm and we will no longer be surprised when 50% (or more) of the researchers in a project are women.

So, we think that Marie Skłodowska Curie words are perfect to encourage all who want to pursue a career in science, even if the environment may not allow it: “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained”.


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