EU Considers Tougher Rules to Promote Gender Equality in Horizon Europe

By SalM on March 24, 2021 in News, Women in Research

Excellence and impact will be the main criteria in evaluating proposals, but in case of a tie, gender balance in research groups will swing it. All institutions awarded grants must have published gender equality plans – and show they are implementing them.

The European Commission is weighing up whether to add tougher rules to promote gender equality in research grant contracts awarded in the imminent Horizon Europe R&D programme, according to leaked draft planning documents.

The plan – which is still subject to revision – would for the first time make gender balance in research groups a possible tie-breaker when deciding among competing applications. The main criteria for evaluating proposals remains research excellence and impact. But for proposals with the same score, gender balance between researchers and staff named in the proposal could be the deciding factor.

Under the plan, the Commission would also require all public sector organisations to have published formal gender equality plans, and produce evidence to show plans are being implemented.

The ideas fit into a broader effort to push for greater gender equality across all EU programmes. But in the case of research, leaked drafts of the plan, and some private briefings on it, have stirred concerns that enforcing gender equality will make it tougher for some institutions and EU member states to win Horizon Europe grants.

The gender provisions are among several possible changes the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe programme could introduce from March or April of this year. Many are mandated by the new Horizon Europe legislation that is due to get final Parliamentary approval in coming weeks. These include allowing big research institutions to use their own regular accounting methods, rather than the Commission’s previously rigid formula, when deciding how to bill for indirect project costs like infrastructure and central administration.

Others have been elaborated by Commission staff in months of detailed programme documents.

Many of these drafts have been circulating informally around the EU research community for weeks, but the Commission refuses to comment and won’t publish the final versions until after Parliament formally approves the legislation this spring. “We do not have the habit to comment on leaks,” a Commission spokesman said in an emailed reply to several requests for comment made by Science|Business.

According to the draft model grant agreement, beneficiaries are expected to promote equal opportunities between men and women during the project, in line with their published gender equality plans. “[Beneficiaries] must aim, to the extent possible, for a gender balance at all levels of personnel assigned to the action, including at supervisory and managerial level,” the draft says.

In addition, the proposal template warns applicants to “be aware” that if their proposal is selected, their organisation needs to have its gender equality plan in place before they can sign the grant agreement.

The Commission will require gender equality plans in the form of official documents published by research institutions and universities and signed by the top management. These plans would commit the institution to collect gender data on personnel and students, raise awareness on gender equality and unconscious biases among staff and decision makers.

The plans must also include “concrete measures and targets [on] work-life balance and organisational culture; gender balance in leadership and decision making; gender equality in recruitment and career progression; integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching content; measures against gender-based violence, including sexual harassment.”

According to a draft version of the general annexes to the 2021-2022 work programmes, “If necessary, the gender balance among the personnel named in the proposal who will be primarily responsible for carrying out the research and/or innovation activities, and who are included in the researchers’ table of the proposal, will be used as a factor for prioritisation.”

Broader push for gender mainstreaming

The changes introduced to EU’s main research and innovation programme, reflect a broader political push for gender equality in Europe. A strategy published in May 2020 listed key actions for the next five years to mainstream gender equality in all EU policy areas. “With the Gender Equality Strategy, we are pushing for more and faster progress to promote equality between men and women,” EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said at the launch of the plan.

In the field of research and innovation, studies by the European Commission, show women occupy only 24% of top academic positions, they are under-represented the science, technology and mathematics overall, and represent less than 10% of patent holders.

The Commission has already asked member states to develop concrete plans to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusiveness in research and innovation.

Until now, research organisations and funding agencies were encouraged to implement institutional changes through gender equality plans. The Commission even made funds available from Horizon 2020 for research organisations to implement these plans.

In September, EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel included further plans for improving gender balance in research organisations in her signature communication on revamping the European Research Area (ERA). That included a call for member states to develop plans to promote “gender equality, diversity, and inclusiveness in science, research, and innovation”. For now, the Commission is in the process of devising a governance structure for ERA and it is not clear yet how the implementation of gender equality plans in member states would be evaluated.

In December, the Commission concluded trilateral negotiations with the Council and the Parliament on the Horizon Europe legal framework, which includes provisions for the research programme to “eliminate gender inequalities” and to promote equality between women and men in research and innovation. “The gender dimension should be integrated in research and innovation content and followed through at all stages of the research cycle,” the framework says.

Universities get ahead

Thomas Jørgensen, senior policy coordinator at the European University Association said most universities have gender equality strategies or similar initiatives in place and will be able to handle the proposed requirements. According to him, it should not be too difficult to tick the gender equality box.

“Researchers will probably be able to show that strategies exists in one way or the other, as most universities already do this,” said Jørgensen.

A study by the EUA in 159 higher education institutions found many have already put together plans to enable people from less-represented backgrounds to advance academic and research careers. “The topic is on the agenda in universities, not only because funders would like it, but because universities want to do it themselves,” said Jørgensen.

However, Jørgensen says the proposed new provisions seem “draconian” and “inflexible” and the EU could be missing a broader debate about “the link between excellence and diversity”. The focus of EU policies should not be only on the gender gap, but should be aimed at supporting a universal idea about equity and diversity that includes other underprivileged groups and how such equity could improve excellence in universities, he says.

Diverse universities perform better than homogenous ones, because they have access to more perspectives and are more creative. “Diversity is a precondition for excellence,” Jørgensen said.

New evaluation rules

In addition to the new gender balance criteria for breaking ties, leaked draft documents reveal further changes to how the new research programme will work compared to its predecessor, Horizon 2020:

  • Horizon Europe applicants will be asked to name all the researchers who will be involved in the project and their role. EU funding experts say this new provision would slow down the application process, as researchers are often on the move and institutions rarely can guarantee that all researchers listed in the application will work on the project through to the end.
  • Also, for certain types of projects, research organisations do not allocate researchers at the time of the application. This new provision could mean that the Commission wants to do more thorough evaluations of personnel costs to reduce a potential source of fraud, check whether personnel costs are used for researchers on the payroll of the organisation, and make sure that consortia do not introduce new people in an ongoing project.
  • According to the leaked drafts, the Commission is to introduce a blind evaluation pilot. For two-stage submissions, the researchers’ identity will not be disclosed to evaluators during the first stage of their assessment.
  • In the leaked drafts, the Commission has also listed all the activities that are eligible for funding. Two new project types will be introduced in the research programme: innovation and market deployment actions (IMDA), for projects that seek to deploy innovations to the market and to scale-up companies; and training and mobility actions (TMA), for projects that use cross-country mobility to improve skills, knowledge and career prospects for researchers. The first is intended for use by the European Innovation Council, which funds small or growing tech companies. The second is for use by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which funds big consortia of universities and companies that promote innovation and train young innovators.
  • Researchers could be forced to agree to “immediately” deposit any research output in a repository and provide access to it under a creative commons or public domain dedication licences, in case their research is deemed of public interest during an emergency. The draft model agreement does not specify what kind of emergencies would fit this bill. The model grant agreement for Horizon 2020 has a similar clause but that only applied for health emergencies. It remains unclear whether researchers and their organisations will get reimbursed or their intellectual property protected after agreeing to this clause.
  • The Commission is also planning to introduce a new proposal length for single-stage applications. The top limit could be reduced from 70 pages in Horizon 2020 to only 45.

Source: sciencebusiness

Empowering women leads to better science, research and innovation

By SalM on March 15, 2021 in News, Women in Research

EU commissioner for research and innovation announces Women TechEU, an EIC-led initiative that will offer coaching, mentoring and funding to promising female tech entrepreneurs.
Last year was a remarkable year for women in science. Two scientists, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, one from the EU and one from the US, received a Nobel Prize for their discovery on the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors. It was the first time that the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to two women in the same year in its 119-year history. It is amazing to see how the impact of women in science has grown exponentially since Marie Curie became the first women to receive a Nobel Prize in 1903. It sends an important message to younger generations of women and the world: We need your skills, talents and solutions.

Better science

While gender equality is important in and of itself, I would like to stress that having more women in science serves another, maybe even greater purpose: better science. The reason that we could start vaccinations in less than a year from the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe is because of the discoveries of amazing women scientists. Because of Katalin Karikó, a scientist from Hungary that since 1990 has worked tirelessly on developing mRNA technologies that are now at the basis of our COVID-19 vaccines. Because of Özlem Türeci, a German physician, scientist and entrepreneur who co-founded BioNTech, the first company to receive vaccine approval from the European Medicines Agency. Because of all the women in research and innovation across Europe and the world that have contributed to new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.

That is why, I am determined to continue stepping up EU efforts to increase gender equality in education, culture, sports and research and innovation. The latest “She Figures” report, our flagship publication monitoring the state of play on gender equality in research and innovation, indicates a persisting under-representation of women in research and innovation. All disciplines considered, only a third of researchers in the EU are women and only 15% in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Even more striking, women represent less than 10% of patent holders, only 8% of European startups are founded by all-women teams and only 25% are founded by a team that includes at least one woman.

A changing mindset

We need more innovative ways of tackling gender stereotypes among the younger generations. That is why on International Women’s Day 2020 I started a yearlong social media campaign – #EUwomen4future. Since then, I have had the privilege to highlight the remarkable achievements from European women in research, innovation, education, culture and sport. Because of this campaign, a database of talented women from across Europe remains and we will continue supporting and recognizing them and all other amazing women that have made an impact.

Another concrete example of how we are addressing gender stereotypes in science is the project ‘Nobel Run’. This EU-funded project designed a board game where players have to manage a research team, hire doctoral students and researchers, publish articles and get funding through international projects, with the help of top women scientists and inventors. The goal? Winning the Nobel Prize.

A bright future

This is the moment to reaffirm our commitment and take the next steps towards true gender equality. That is why we made sure that integration of the gender dimension into the design of projects funded under Horizon Europe, our new EU research and innovation programme, will be a standard requirement. Furthermore, having a gender equality plan in place will become an eligibility criterion for public bodies, research organizations and higher education establishments.

Now let us talk business. As I mentioned before, when it comes to Europe’s booming technology industry the overwhelming majority of start-ups are founded by all-male teams. We can and must do better. That is why today, on International Women’s Day, I am proud to announce “Women TechEU”, a brand new initiative, spearheaded by the European Innovation Council, to support women-led deep-tech startups, and give them a boost to grow their company into the deep tech champions of tomorrow.

These actions are complementary to those from other EU programmes, such as ERASMUS+, with strong synergies with the transformative agenda for higher education institutions, the European Universities alliances, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – which will offer training in digital and STEM skills to 40,000 schoolgirls.

We need more women talents for better science, research and innovation. It is vital for ensuring sustainable and inclusive twin digital and green transitions, and recovery from the pandemic. I call upon all research organisations, universities, businesses, governments and citizens to join me in realising more inclusive, equal and better research and innovation.

‘Women and girls belong in science’ declares UN chief

By SalM on February 19, 2021 in News, Women in Research

“Advancing gender equality in science and technology is essential for building a better future”, Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We have seen this yet again in the fight against COVID-19”.

Women, who represent 70 per cent of all healthcare workers, have been among those most affected by the pandemic and those leading the response to it. Yet, as women bear the brunt of school closures and working from home, gender inequalities have increased dramatically over the past year.

Woman’s place is in the lab

Citing the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) he said that women account for only one third of the world’s researchers and hold fewer senior positions than men at top universities, which has led to “a lower publication rate, less visibility, less recognition and, critically, less funding”.

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning replicate existing biases.

“Women and girls belong in science”, stressed the Secretary-General.

Yet stereotypes have steered them away from science-related fields.

Diversity fosters innovation

The UN chief underscored the need to recognize that “greater diversity fosters greater innovation”.

“Without more women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], the world will continue to be designed by and for men, and the potential of girls and women will remain untapped”, he spelled out.

Their presence is also critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to close gender pay gaps and boost women’s earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years, according to Mr. Guterres.

“STEM skills are also crucial in closing the global Internet user gap”, he said, urging everyone to “end gender discrimination, and ensure that all women and girls fulfill their potential and are an integral part in building a better world for all”.

‘A place in science’

Meanwhile, despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28 per cent of engineering graduates and 40 per cent of graduates in computer science and informatics, according to UNESCO.

It argues the need for women to be a part of the digital economy to “prevent Industry 4.0 from perpetuating traditional gender biases”.

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay observed that “even today, in the 21st century, women and girls are being sidelined in science-related fields due to their gender”.

As the impact of AI on societal priorities continues to grow, the underrepresentation of women’s contribution to research and development means that their needs and perspectives are likely to be overlooked in the design of products that impact our daily lives, such as smartphone applications.

“Women need to know that they have a place in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and that they have a right to share in scientific progress”, said Ms. Azoulay.

‘Pathway’ to equality

Commemorating the day at a dedicated event, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir informed that he is working with a newly established Gender Advisory Board to mainstream gender throughout all of the UN’s work, including the field of science.

“We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to derail our plans for equality”, he said, adding that increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, for women and girls has emerged as “a pathway to gender equality and as a key objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Mr. Volkan highlighted the need to accelerate efforts and invest in training for girls to “learn and excel in science”.

“From the laboratory to the boardroom, Twitter to television, we must amplify the voices of female scientists”, he stressed.

STEM minorities

Meanwhile, UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation honoured five women researchers in the fields of astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry and informatics as part of the 23rd International Prize for Women in Science.

In its newly published global study on gender equality in scientific research, To be smart, the digital revolution will need to be inclusive, UNESCO shows that although the number of women in scientific research has risen to one in three, they remain a minority in mathematics, computer science, engineering and artificial intelligence.

“It is not enough to attract women to a scientific or technological discipline”, said Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Natural Sciences.

“We must also know how to retain them, ensuring that their careers are not strewn with obstacles and that their achievements are recognized and supported by the international scientific community”.

Gender equality in EU Academia

By SalM on February 10, 2021 in News, Women in Research

The European Commission’s plan to establish an initiative to address gender inequality in academe has been welcomed by sector leaders, who predicted that taking action to improve diversity will become a requirement for obtaining research funding from Brussels.

As part of wide-ranging proposals for developing the European Research Area (ERA) and the new European Education Area (EEA), the European Commission said it will, in 2021, “propose … the development of inclusive gender equality plans with member states and stakeholders in order to promote EU gender equality in R&I [research and innovation].”

The commission’s communication on ERA notes that “women remain significantly under-represented” within Europe’s research community, making up just 33.4 percent of researchers, 24 percent of professors and 26 percent of university leaders.

“Despite evidence that balanced teams perform better, gender inequalities persist in Europe’s R&I systems,” the communication notes, adding that “coordinated action with education policies and research funders will promote a gender-inclusive culture.”

That statement, alongside the EEA’s reference to a “new agenda for higher education transformation [to] promote gender balance in academic careers,” was a clear signal that European research funding was likely to become dependent on obtaining an E.U.-accredited gender award, said Kurt Deketelaere, president of the League of European Research Universities, which represents 23 leading research-intensive universities.

“If you apply for European research funding, your institution will soon need to have a detailed gender action plan,” explained Deketelaere, who said that the system resembled recent efforts to encourage open science, in which, under Plan S, research funding will be denied to those who do not sign up to commitments on how research outputs will be made freely available.

“I am quite happy with this approach as long as it does not lead to an excess of red tape,” added Deketelaere, who contrasted the commission’s direction of travel to the U.K.’s recent decision to “water down” its commitment to Athena SWAN [a program that recognizes British universities for efforts to promote gender equity] by severing the link between diversity awards and research funding.

Marcela Linkova, coordinator of Gender Action, a group of national policy experts appointed by E.U. member states and associated countries, said she “welcomed the plan … that gender equality plans are likely to be a requirement for applicants for Horizon Europe.”

“The message must be clear that public funding for research and education cannot go to supporting institutions that discriminate, promulgate stereotypes or who are unable to make full use of the talents they employ,” said Linkova, who chairs the ERA committee’s working group on gender.

“The time has come to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, because inequality continues, including the gender pay gap and gender-based violence in academia,” added Linkova.

Jan Palmowski, secretary-general of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, commented that the proposals on diversity would bring the E.U. closer into line with the U.K.

“At E.U. level, we have not had Athena SWAN and there are no other countries where there is a link between research funding and gender equality so, in some sense, the E.U. is catching up on the U.K.,” said Palmowski, despite the Westminster government’s recent decision to end such a link.

Thomas Estermann, director for governance, funding and public policy development at the European University Association, also praised the commission’s commitment to tackle gender diversity..

Why women don’t speak up on Zoom calls – and why that’s a problem

By SalM on February 3, 2021 in News, Women in Research

  • Women are systematically seen as less authoritative, study shows.
  • Gender biases still shape the rules of social engagement.
  • Changing the environment in the room – rather than changing women’s behaviour – should be the goal.

Diversity efforts may have given women a seat at the table – or, in the context of the pandemic, a place on the Zoom call – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a voice.

With working from home now the norm for many, a growing body of research is showing that it’s not become a leveller for meetings.

Almost half (45%) of US women business leaders surveyed in September said it was difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings on platforms like Zoom, while one-in-five women felt they’d actually been ignored on such calls.

Researchers at Brigham Young University in the US found last year that the gender dynamics shutting down women remained prevalent, even in the most well-intentioned settings.

“Women are systematically seen as less authoritative,” Jessica Preece, associate professor in political science at BYU, told BYU Magazine.

“And their influence is systematically lower. And they’re speaking less. And when they’re speaking up, they’re not being listened to as much, and they are being interrupted more.”

So what’s going on?

 

Women ‘less influential’

Preece and her colleagues examined the female experience in a male-dominated collegiate accounting programme, in which women were typically enrolled with better grade point averages and more leadership experience than their male counterparts.

Students pass through the programme on teams, and administrators wanted to know how to best build these groups.

In teams where women were outnumbered, the researchers discovered they were routinely seen as the least competent and influential in the group.

The problem is not necessarily intentional bias or misogyny. It is instead a systemic problem with society that often sees cultural norms and gendered messages shaping the rules of engagement, explained Preece.

We have been “slowly socialized over years to discount” female expertise and perspectives, she said.

“It’s not women who are broken; it’s society that’s broken,” she added. “I’d like to see us focus on training people to be – and creating systems that are – supportive of women who speak up.”

This means the goal needs to be changing the environment in the room, actual or virtual, rather than women themselves – so that they are empowered and listened to.

“We have lots of learning and unlearning to do.”

 

Towards gender parity

Gender parity can affect whether or not economies and societies thrive, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 – particularly important as countries seek to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic.

McKinsey Global Institute’s 2015 Power of Parity report estimated that advancing women’s equality could add $13 trillion to global growth by 2025.

The Forum’s report saw improvement in educational attainment, and health and survival, with the gender gap closing by 96.1% and 95.7% respectively.

Women have been disproportionately impacted during COVID-19, according to McKinsey Global Institute, with greater job losses, often as a result of increasing unpaid care.

Helping women be heard

BYU researchers say that even small changes to make sure women in a meeting, or on a call, can fully contribute or express their views can make all the difference.

Positive interjections, such as “that’s an interesting point”, can elevate and help validate women’s voices in spaces where they may otherwise be lost, they added.

The goal is to create an environment in which women can be as influential as their authentic selves, says Preece.

“If we build a world in which women’s voices are valued and listened to, they will speak up without having to be told to.”

Source : World Economic Forum

National policies and certification good practices: the CASPER State of the Art analysis is out!

By SalM on October 27, 2020 in News, Women in Research

The CASPER team proudly presents the “State of the Art Analysis: mapping the awarding certification landscape in Higher Education and Research” (D3.3).

This report is the result of the exploration exertion of an organization in excess of 30 worldwide scientists. Such exertion was facilitated, curated, and created by the Smart Venice group with the commitment of Oxford Brookes University and Yellow Window. The exploration spread over across 33 nations (the 27 EU nations in addition to Australia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America) to reveal great practices in accreditation and granting plans for gender correspondence, particularly with regards to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Research associations. Also, the exploration zeroed in on acquiring a diagram of the principal arrangements and measures received at the public level to incorporate gender equity in Research and Higher Education.

The outcome is a reference-rich examination of the scene in which a potential European-level confirmation or grant plot (CAS) for gender uniformity in Research could create. With 114 CAS for gender uniformity and variety which target research associations, private organizations and public organizations inspected in detail, the report gives an effectively traversable assortment of intriguing practices, isolated by the nation of inception, with an uncommon spotlight on cross-public plans.

The report shows that the European one is a great climate for the improvement of a CAS, with a general positive pattern in the reception of CAS for HEIs and Research in the most recent years. In any case, it likewise presents a lopsided scene, where nations have various degrees of usage of gender balance approaches in research and Higher Education along with various needs on the issue. While a general investigation is given in the initial segment of the report, the different degrees of incorporation of gender fairness in the nations’ public strategies and systems are depicted in detail in the report’s Country Sheets. The sheets examine the public settings giving knowledge on the fundamental approaches, structures, and practices which manage the joining of gender fairness in their exploration and Higher Education systems.

The report’s general examination gives an overall point of view on the current confirmations and grants rehearses. Among its discoveries, there is the inclination of CAS zeroing in on HE and Research to utilize self-appraisal as the passage point in the application cycle, regularly with inner gender investigation as an initial step. Such a methodology is by all accounts urged to advance inside change, as this investigation regularly functions as a base for reformist improvement, which is frequently surveyed by outer specialists or companions. Concerning models for granting CAS, the presence of sufficient preparing, enrollment, hostile to provocation, and work-life balance arrangements are the most widely recognized models. An intersectional way to deal with gender uniformity, which is additionally advanced by the most recent European arrangements’ turns of events, is available just in a (anyway applicable) minority of CAS.

Taking everything into account, the State of the Art report is a rich and exhaustive archive that advises the CASPER situations with flow structure information and great practices to take motivation from; it is likewise an animating perused for scientists intrigued by public approaches in regards to gender correspondence in Research and Higher Education; lastly, it is a cutting-edge, enlightening assortment of accessible CAS on gender fairness, variety, and consideration.

Nason, Giulia, and Maria Sangiuliano. 2020. “State of the Art Analysis: Mapping the Awarding Certification Landscape in Higher Education and Research,” June. 

Source: https://www.caspergender.eu/

Edurne Inigo

By SalM on May 21, 2020 in Women in Research

I am a postdoc researcher at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and one of the women in the RRI project. I am currently co-responsible for the RRING Work Package 5, in which we examine the relationship between RRI and competitive advantage. What we want to find out is whether RRI may be a driver of competitive advantage, or maybe a barrier, in different areas of the world. We are looking at the linkages for RRI worldwide; therefore, we look at the 5 geographical areas defined by UNESCO that are the focus of the project RRING; that is, Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are three distinct phases within this work package. The first phase is mostly exploratory and consists of a theoretical part and an empirical part. To start with, we will examine both academic literature and policy, managerial and European project documents that can help to shed light on the relationship between RRI and competitive advantage. This is a particularly challenging task in those geographical areas where the term RRI has not been very widely utilized. Therefore, we also look for proxies that are consistent with a global understanding of RRI. This is relevant for the next phases of the work package, where we will look at RRI and competitive advantage in practice. As part of this exploratory exercise, we will also conduct interviews with experts in RRI and competitive advantage, and we will perform a survey. The next phase of the project in this Work Package builds on the review and develops indicators that can be used to help businesses policymakers – and potentially other stakeholders – in their evaluation of RRI and competitive advantage. At the moment, it is difficult to assess the business case for RRI, and by looking at proxies for RRI we aim to develop usable indicators that are valid globally. In the third phase of the Work Package we are going to go back to businesses and policymakers, to work with them in two different tasks:  evaluating the usefulness of the developed indicators, and carrying out case studies that will help us to understand whether and how RRI and competitive advantage are intertwined. Based on all this data, Work Package 5 will provide reports for different stakeholders on the relationship of RRI and competitive advantage.

Beyond RRING, I am interested in the inclusion of sustainability and socio-ethical goals in the innovation process, and how the whole system surrounding businesses affects the development of the firm’s innovation activities in one way or another. The main reason why I do what I do is my will to contribute to sustainability. And as noted by New Zealand’s former primer minister Helen Clark, “any serious shift towards more sustainable societies has to include gender equality”.

Thus, I stand with my peers and allies in those areas where I can have the greatest impact: visibility of women researchers, equal education for girls worldwide and social and economic equality for women everywhere. Because gender equal societies are more prosperous and more sustainable societies.

If you want to know more about me, you may follow me on Twitter or visit my LinkedIn profile.

Kutoma Wakunuma (PhD)

By SalM on May 21, 2020 in Women in Research

I am a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at De Montfort University where I work within the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR). I hold a PhD in Information and Communication Technologies for Development and Gender. My research interests are around understanding the impact of ICTs on modern society spanning both the developed and developing world. This is in addition to interests around ethics of technologies, gender in ICTs, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Civil Society Organisation research. My interests are reflected in a number of projects including EU projects I have worked on and continue to work on. The EU projects include ETICA (Ethical Issues of Emerging ICT Applications); CONSIDER (Civil Society Organisations in Designing Research); Network Analysis of Civil Society Organisations Participation in Research Framework Programmes and SATORI (Stakeholders Acting Together On the ethical impact assessment of Research and Innovation) to name a few. I have taken on several roles on these including being part of the coordination team and WP leader. For example, I was lead evaluator on the Evaluation WP of the SATORI project. I was also Principal Evaluator on the EU funded project Hypatia where I evaluated the projects gender-related aspects particularly concerning the involvement of boys and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

In addition to all the exciting work outlined above, I am also a Senior Lecturer teaching on postgraduate and undergraduate courses, which include RRI in ICT, ICT for Development, Computing Ethics as well as Research, Ethics and Professionalism. I also serve as a module leader on a number of the modules I teach. In addition, I am programme leader for the MSc Computing programme. I also supervise PhD students and have a couple of successful completions to my name.

My other activities involve being a journal reviewer on a number of journals. I also act as a European Commission evaluator and ethics expert.

I am currently DMU lead on the RRING project where we are contributing to a number of WPs. The WPs include Global State of the Art of RRI by key geographies; Global comparative analysis of State of the Art; Development of Competitive advantages of RRI; Aligning RRI with SDGs and high-level RRI strategies and the Establishment of a perpetual global RRI network. I am especially excited about the potential of understanding the state of the art of RRI in different geographical regions, which include Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean. This is particularly important, as it will give us insight into how RRI is understood in other regions outside of Europe.

I think the RRING project is really exciting not only in its reach of different geographical regions as it tries to understand the concept of RRI beyond Europe but also in its contribution to the UN’s SDGs as it aims to align RRI to the SDGs. In particular, I am very happy with its focus on gender, which is something very important to me.

Having a gender committee and a number of women in leading roles on the project is especially encouraging and something to be proud of as a member of the project. It highlights the important contributions women like myself can and do make in research. With this, I am hopeful that various other projects can take a leaf out of the RRING project and involve more women in strategic roles and in research as a whole. If you want to know more about me and the work I do, you can follow me on Twitter: @KWakunuma or visit my Linkedin profile. You can also visit my google scholar citation profile or visit my university home page.

Simge Davulcu

By SalM on May 21, 2020 in Women in Research

Simge Davulcu, Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry, RRING researcher.

Simge is a young scientist from Cyprus. She has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Bath. Recently she completed a Post-doc with Prof. Andrea Procheddu in the development of mechano-chemical methodologies for catalytic organic reactions at the University of Cagliari in Sardinia.

She is currently the Head of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Department of Pharmacy at Girne American University. Her research interests are developing novel, atom-efficient catalytic processes for the formation of C-N bonds in pharmaceutically important molecules. She is also a teaching fellow in Organic Chemistry to Pharmacy undergraduate students.

She is an enthusiast in RRI and its applications in research, has a particular interest in STEM Outreach, public engagement and capacity building. She is the winner of the Science Diplomacy Project Award by UNESCO at the World Science Forum 2016 and the founder of Science for Peace Initiative Cyprus. She is the Junior Co-Chair of ICORSA and a researcher in RRING WP7. She supports WP7 in the State of the Art of existing Networks and network evaluation.

Emma Day

By SalM on May 21, 2020 in Women in Research

Emma Day, Programme Manager at Vitae.

I have worked for Vitae, as a passionate supporter of researcher development for over 15 years in a variety of project management and training and development roles, both in the UK and Europe.  I am one of Vitae’s most experienced project managers with a particular interest in researcher career development and fulfilment, intersectoral mobility and equality and diversity, particularly gender.

I believe that the RRING project is extremely exciting and timely as it tackles a number of issues central to much of Vitae’s work around developing researchers to maximise their potential and address the barriers to both successful researchers and research that we see today particularly around the divide between the academic and non-academic world.  Collaboration and openness will be so important to overall society development and wellbeing in the future.

My most recent project was as co-ordinator of a EURAXESS programme which highlighted the barriers of academic intersectoral mobility demonstrating that this still needs to be tackled on a large scale by both academia and business in order to ensure that researchers are able to fulfil their potential and achieve their best work.  This can be done through better public engagement and heightened public understanding of its importance through science education.  For too long there has been a wider lack of understanding about what researchers do.

On a personal note, I am passionate about gender issues and opportunities and as a working mother working in an academic environment, I am more than aware of some of the challenges entrenched in this area and the barriers needed to successfully overcome them.  I have developed resources for gender and wider equality and diversity training for academics and I am keen to see this area develop, it is exciting to work on a project which will look to draw together expertise on this.

The global scale of this project will create a network that will move the RRI agenda forwards for all researchers and develop something that has long term relevance and sustainability.  I am really looking forward to playing my part.