Quotas to promote gender equality in research
Dr. Simona Isler, Gender equality officer, Swiss National Science Foundation, Switzerland
Inequality in science has an impact on society: the perspectives, needs and experiences of women are less likely to play a role in knowledge generation. Therefore the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) decided to introduce gender quotas in its evaluation bodies and the National Research Council. This measure should bring more visibility to women in science, give higher priority to concerns that are relevant to women and improve collaboration thanks to more diversity. In addition, the SNSF is hoping its quota will encourage partners in academia to follow in its footsteps. The talk will firstly elaborate on the reasons for the introduction of the quota and secondly give an insight into the reactions and discussions provoked by that decision.
Exploring quotas in academia
Dr. Gerlind Wallon, Deputy Director of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), Heidelberg, Germany
The use of gender quotas in academic hiring and awards is one tool that could mitigate disparities in the number of women and men at the highest levels of academic research. The use of such quotas, however, is controversial. Especially in academia where merit is a very important but ill-defined concept, the use of quotas may be seen to be undermining a merit system. On the other hand, at least in some fields, the current merit system seems to have favored men, so using quotas might help improve the system. EMBO has carried out a study, which included a two day workshop with experts to explore the use of quota in academia and beyond.