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Central Europen Centre for Women and Youth in Science
Project vision and introduction

 

… whoever gets to define what counts as a scientific problem also gets a powerful role in shaping the picture of the world that results from scientific research. (Harding 1991:40)

 

 

If you wonder…

 

...why women are represented in higher education in large numbers, but are not quite making it to the top,

 

...how to synchronise parenthood and a scientific career,

 

...why and how young scientists decide to be or not to be mobile and what are the gains and costs of their decisions,

 

...what is the connection between mobility and gender

 

...what impact state socialism in Central Europe had on the position of women in science,

 

... why the inclusion of gender dimension in research crucial for scientific excellence

 

...then you ask the same questions as we do.

 

What is the problem?

 

Women in Central and Eastern Europe face double marginalisation

As women they face social and institutional barriers to getting to the top of science and as a result they don’t have equal chance to contribute to shaping research priorities. These barriers stem from the traditional roles and stereotypically perceived qualities of men and women. Despite, or even because of, state socialist equal treatment policy, the traditional division of roles and labour, both outside and inside the family, did not change.

In the post-socialist context many women (as well as men) scientists are faced with the consequences of isolation and exclusion from western R&D developments, resulting in a lack of networking, required skills and self-confidence necessary for participation in international research projects. This is not to say that all women scientists have the same experience or that that no women have succeeded, but as long as there are some facing marginalisation or even discrimination, there is work to be done.

 

Young scientists in CEE between a rock and a hard place

Young scientists face the consequences of the communist legacy and new demands of the present in the R&D sector. The low investment in R&D results in low salaries and limited technological horizons, encouraging people to brain drain, especially to the commercial sphere. This may apply particularly to young male researchers because of the traditional breadwinning expectations. For those who stay, being mobile has become a condition for research development and a measure of scientific excellence. Scientists who refrain from or are unable to be mobile due to family commitments are not valued as highly as scientists free from family responsibilities; and because women are still expected to take the main burden of family care, this hits women hardest. For returners, reintegration is often hindered by institutional inbreeding, lack of meritocracy and hostility to young scientists with newer research, methodological, technological and language skills. As a result, an unhealthy generation gap appears, reducing the openness to collaboration and mutual respect.

 

Objective:

 

The objective of CEC-WYS is to empower women and young scientists in Central Europe and to contribute to achieving gender equality in R&D.

 

Working within this broad objectives framework, CEC-WYS aims to achieve the following:

  • by making actions to mobilise and network women scientists, we aim to increase their visibility and participation in national, European and international research and their invitation to advisory boards and scientific committees
  • to increase the participation of women in decision-making and evaluation procedures of Framework Programme funding 
  • to foster reflective practices by raising awareness of the implications of gender dimension of scientific research
  • to develop scientists’ skills in incorporating this practice into their research ideas and methodologies
  • to encourage policy developments at national level concerning the issue of women in science
  • to prepare young researchers to take ownership of their research projects, and develop their skills in communication and responsible conduct of research, and provide them with the skills and reflection to develop into effective supervisors and mentors
  • to make actions to mobilise and network young scientists in order to advocate their interests in a policy debate particularly from a regional and gender perspective

about our strategic framework:

  • CEC-WYS is a regional project addressing region-specific social-historical context and situation
  • the target audience is multi-disciplinary and “science” is understood as including all fields of hard and soft sciences
  • CEC-WYS looks to the long-term transformation of the practice of science and scientific institutions. We believe this transformation of scientific and institutional culture is the only way to achieve gender equality, and thus scientific excellence. A simple increase in the number of women in science is not the solution.
  • Without policy support, individual actions cannot change institutional cultures. However, without the identification of individuals with policies, policies remain on paper only. Thus, the project has twin approaches: to work at grassroots level and at policy level. We anticipate that the impact on individuals will be mirrored in a shift in the research culture as individuals will play a part in bringing about such a transformation while we will push for changes in policy toward equality.

methods:

  • networking
  • training activities and workshops
  • reflective practice
  • policy monitoring

expected impact:

  • empowered women and young scientists will be able to name the obstacles they face, and therefore will be more confident to advocate for their interests at institutional level
  • scientists better equipped with reflective skills and an understanding of the gender implications of their research will be more able to reach to excellence in their scientific research and be more effective supervisors
  • individual empowerment and reflective practice will contribute to changing research cultures
  • the concerns of young scientists and women scientists will reach institutional and national policy agendas
  • mobilisation will facilitate the democratisation of decision-making in science and the development of a meritocracy in the scientific community

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.