Gender Equality Achievements
The HBP has demonstrated how equality can be fostered by a network of outstanding researchers. It has aimed to serve as a good practice example for European funded projects characterised by complexity and spatial remoteness of involved partners. Despite the project’s complexity, the gender balance of scientists in leadership positions improved from 16% women in September 2017 to 40%% women by Sept. 2023 (35% in research, 53% management).
WE ARE HBP
HBP has formulated the vision “WE ARE HBP”
It stands for “Work for and Engage in Activities and Research for Equality in the HBP”. Activities and research were structured in 4 areas of intervention and were driven by the appreciation that equal opportunities across different cultures, disciplines, tasks, and sexes contribute to excellence, innovation, and collaboration.
A CALL TO ACTION: The Statement on Improving the Working Conditions for Early Stage Researchers in Science
The HBP as a European Science Collaboration, collaborating with researchers around the globe, is convinced of the high relevance of equal opportunities, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as the cornerstones of innovation and progress in science.
However, disparities in employment contracts and working conditions at universities across Europe and worldwide raise serious concerns for us. Existing literature points to precarious work conditions, especially for early-career researchers, leading to a lack of long-term career perspectives. This can significantly impede many talented individuals, especially women from entering and prospering in the field of science. Similarly, it's crucial to recognize that these disparities can contribute to gender and other forms of discrimination, affecting career progression and undermining our collective efforts towards fostering EDI. Taking into account legislation we must acknowledge its role in contributing to precarious employment situations. As the Swiss Campaign for better Working Conditions in Academia notes “around the world, students and staff are protesting”, for example the German 'Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz' (WissZeitVG, Act on Temporary Contracts in Higher Education and Research) led to protests analysing the effects, sharing individual experiences and requesting reform.
Against this backslash, we propose the following measures to counteract these negative effects:
1. Harmonisation of Standards: Working towards a consensus with international organizations, national governments, and university administrations to establish employment standards in science. This includes working towards better job security and fair wages, comparable working conditions for all scientific researchers, irrespective of their geographical location, health or family obligations.
2. Equal Opportunities Framework: Creating a globally accepted framework that ensures fair treatment and equal opportunities for researchers, irrespective of their personal circumstances or backgrounds.
3. Financial Support Mechanisms: Introducing financial support mechanisms such as scholarships, grants, and fellowships for scientists from low-income countries or underprivileged backgrounds and parents travelling with children to lower the economic barriers in pursuing scientific careers.
4. Transparency and Accountability: Encouraging transparency around working conditions and contracts in universities, perhaps via an international database, allowing researchers to compare information about different institutions.
5. Commitment and Engagement: Encourage commitment among researchers, especially those with leadership responsibilities. This is applicable to all members of the scientific community, ranging from students to senior researchers and administrators.
6. Consider Mobility: Addressing the challenges presented by international mobility within the academic sector, to foster greater equal opportunities and diversity.
The future of our global community is deeply intertwined with the strength and diversity of our scientific community. Therefore, we must act promptly to address these disparities and foster a more inclusive, diverse, and equal scientific landscape. Only by ensuring equal opportunities for all can we unlock the true potential of global scientific research.
Gender Action Plan
The Gender Action Plan II (January 2021-March 2023 contributes to the integration of the gender dimension and other diversity traits in HBP research and innovation, with a specific focus on the EBRAINS Research Infrastructure. It is based on the first Gender Action Plan I (April 2019-December 2021).
The experiences with implementing this first Gender Action Plan I (GAP) are summarised in the GAP Implementation Report M1-M24.
The HBP began its activities on gender equality in January 2017. foundations were laid by EAF Berlin (see HBP gender survey flyer). For SGA2 (April 2018 to March 2020) and SGA3 (April 2020 to September 2023), the HBP was supported in this challenging task by convelop, an independent organisation advising clients on diversity and equality in research and innovation.
Karin.Grasenick-AT-convelop.at in cooperation with the Project Coordination Office in Geneva.