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Central Europen Centre for Women and Youth in Science
project background

It has long been recognised that the position of women in science is an important issue that is of interest not only to women in science but also to research infrastructures in general, in particular with regard to the efficiently utilising all talents that are available in R&D (see the recent Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled Researchers in the European Research Area: One Profession, Multiple Careers /COM (2003) 436 final/).

 

Over the past thirty years, various activities have been launched in Western Europe both at the individual level of female mobilisation and networking and at the institutional level. In response to mobilisation and activism of women in science, activities in support of gender equality in science at institutional level in Western Europe have flourished over the past decade, including the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research (for more on this, see ”Gender Equality” section of the website).

 

In Central and Eastern Europe, the structural obstacles at national level (aversion to the implementation of equal opportunities policies), the structural obstacles in R&D (horizontal and vertical segregation, pay gap, lack of transparency in career advancement etc.) and the personal and historical obstacles (distaste toward advocating women’s interests among women researchers, unequal gender contract etc.) create a roadblock to a successful implementation of gender equality in R&D. To remedy this situation efficiently, a pan-regional activity is required. This will facilitate synergies at national level in the individual countries involved, contribute to networking of women scientists in the region, and provide a European added value in that by fostering networking and research co-operation across the continent, it will contribute to the structuring of the European research area.

 

Thus, building upon the policies and activities of the EC (establishment of Helsinki Group in 1999, the ETAN report of 2000, the EC’s ENWISE project monitoring the position of women in science in the wider Europe, and the planned establishment of the European Platform for Women Scientists, a regional centre (which brings together partners from Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) titled the Central European Centre for Women and Youth in Science (CEC-WYS) was established to address the obstacles and problems summarised above.

In its documents, the European Commission recognises a threefold relationship between women and science:

  1. science for women (research must address women’s needs as much as men’s needs),

  2. science about women (research must be conducted to enhance our understanding of gender issues) and

  3. science by women (women's participation in research must be encouraged both as scientists/technologists and within the evaluation, consultation and implementation processes).

The Centre will focus in particular on the third aspect, concentrating on activities aimed at mobilising and networking women in science in the Central European region. This goal is important from two perspectives:

  • Firstly, studies show that women are underrepresented in official scientific networks and in top scientific councils that set science policy and also largely excluded from unofficial networks (sometimes referred to as ”old boys’ networks”) and therefore they are in great need for structures for networking, exchanging experience and information, and building contacts.

  • Secondly, with the growing professionalisation and complexity of the research structures, Europe places increasingly more emphasis on structuring the European Research Area (ERA). In this respect, the Centre will work as one of the structuring bodies in the Central European region. It is also expected that the Centre will build close ties to western research infrastructures, thus contributing to the involvement of women scientists and young people in science from the Central European region in international research projects.

Central European Centre for Women and Youth in Science is a project funded by the European Commission
under Framework Programme 6 in the Structuring the ERA specific programme.