Minutes of SCIENCE EUROPE Conference in Brussels
G.Avellis was invited by Lidia Borrell Damian of SCIENCE EUROPE Secretary General and attended the SCIENCE EUROPE event in Brussels with the launch of the “Practical Guide to Supporting Diversity in Research Environments” and for contacting key people of SCIENCE EUROPE, especially the funding bodies of SCIENCE EUROPE.
Building on the success of the 2017 Guide to Improving Gender Equality in Research Organisations, the new guide deals with the meaning of diversity to research organisations, the challenges and barriers they face, and their actions to support diversity.
It started with a key question WHAT DIVERSITY MEANS TO RESEARCH ORGANISATION?
Mostly, it means Gender but also other factors are indicated such as Affiliation, Age, Seniority Geographic representation, Disability, Etnicity, Gender expression (individual expression), Sex (if differentiated from gender), Socio-economic background, Sexual orientation, Cultural background, Religion. Then there was announced some recommendation examples such as on the use of data on diversity “Where data are currently not able to be collected but would to be of use to research organisations in their support for diversity and quality, research organisations should advocate towards their competent authorities for exceptional allowances to collect sensitive data, with appropriate safeguards, to support their activities“. 86% implement some forms of positive actions’ measures to support diversity, such as, in the examples they give, “The research organisations should define the intended effects of their positive action measures in support of diversity” The Challenges to overcome were presented among them Research Precarity, Working with other Stakeholders to promote Sustainable Change, Lack of Resources, Integrating EDI issues into the context of Research, Intersectional Issues and others. The speaker, James Morris, Senior Policy Officer at SCIENCE EUROPE, showed some Good Practice Examples such as ANR Agence Nationale del la Recherce, France: the ANR is committed to contributing to the development of a policy aimed at reducing inequalities between women and men in higher education and in research and as an example of this commitment, the agence published a guide on how to use an inclusive communication and the avoidance of gender stereotyping. As a result another recommendation of the SCIENCE EUROPE Guide was : Research organisations should consider using inclusive language in all their communications, both external and internal, to avoid promoting stereotypes and stereotyping. SWISS NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION was another good practice example: the SNSF integrates gender equality measures directly into its funding programme, PRIMA Grants are aimed at excellent women researchers who show a high potential for obtaining a professorship. The accompanying Recommendation was: Where specific challenges or needs are identified, dedicated funding instruments (for RFOs) or career research progression programmes (for RPOs) should be considered as a positive action measure. The Showcasing good practices as part of the 2024 SCIENCE EUROPE WOMEN IN SCIENCE CAMPAIN. They will continue to collecting and showcasing good practices through their website, such as FORTE from SWIDISH RESEARCH COUNCIL : FORTE offers clear guidance and training for panel members on issues of gender equality, including transparent on potential pitfalls of a gender equal review process and how to work practically to avoid them. (http::/bit.ly/WIS_FORTE). The final message was USE THE RECOMMENDATIONS TO INFORM ACTIONS WITHIN OTHER POLICY INITIATIVES SUCH AS THE REFORM OF RESEARCH ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS, AND LINK THE LESSONS LEARNT ON DIVERSITY TO THE BROADER RESEARCH CULTURE AGENDA. Through the lens of research culture EDI was extended to EDIB where a sense of “BELONGING” is also key attribute of positive and healthy research cultures and another driver of research quality.
The presentation of the several national systems on EDI Equity Diversity and Inclusion were very interesting started with ERC European Research Council Angela Liberatore, Head of Scientific Management Department,, addressing Why Equality and Diversity matter for the ERC, the mandate of the Gender Diversity WG (GDWG) of ERC, whose Chair is Genevieve Almouzni. They have an annual conference on Research and Diversity &Diversity in Frontier Research and showed the results of ERCEA Annual Conference 2023.
Other national systems such as
- INFN Giorgio Chiarelli, Research Director at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy (since 1951, a research community grown to about 2,200 staff+4000 associate),
- CSIC Carolina Canibano Sanchez, research fellow at INGENIO-CSIC and visiting scientist at the Spanish National Research Council’s Brussels’ Office
- FWO Tim Thijs, Science Policy Advisor at the Research Foundation Flanders
reported their EDI programme in their institutions and contributed as best practices and showcase good practices to The Practical Guide to Supporting Diversity in Research Environments.
After the presentation of the recommendations, insights, and examples to support diversity in national research systems, it followed an expert panel discussion on the Guide. The launch of the practical guide was directly followed by SCIENCE EUROPE 2024 New Year’s Reception, providing the opportunity to meet the SCIENCE EUROPE R&I colleagues and SCIENCE EUROPE new governance. In this context the former President of SCIENCE EUORPE Marc Schiltz said goodbye to his friends and colleagues and introduced his successor as President of SCIENCE EUROPE Mari Sundi Tveit. We are delighted that a woman is now the President of SCIENCE EUROPE.
Gianna Avellis actively participated to the presentation of the Practical Guide making some questions introducing ICoRSA to the public and asking whether these recommendations on how to include Diversity in Research Environments will be implemented, whether some Action Plans have been devised for this purpose, such as in the work done by Gianna Avellis in the Women20 Italy Delegation : for each Recommendation made of Women20 on Gender Equality (to be included in the final Declaration of G20) it follows some Action Plans on how to implement such a Recommendation.
Another question to the round table raised by Gianna Avellis was how to integrate these recommendations on Diversity in Research Environments into the EU Framework of Research Careers. And James Morris answered that they are in contact with people at EU level working on that for this purpose.