Diversity in Research Paper Awards Webinar
In the webinar "Diversity in brain research: Does it matter?" on 18 May 2022, 16.00-17.30 CEST, moderated by Prof. Katrin Amunts, invited speakers Prof. Lutz Jäncke and Dr. Frances-Catherine Quevenco, who is part of the Women's Brain Project, discussed recent findings and different viewpoints on how and when sex/gender differences in brain research are relevant.
The Human Brain Project also presented the winners of our Diversity In Research Paper Awards (DIRPA), who outlined their own research results and joined the discussion:
- Sanne Peters et al. (2020): “Sex differences in the association between major risk factors and the risk of stroke in the UK Biobank cohort study” and
- Yi Zhang et al. (2021): “The Human Brain Is Best Described as Being on a Female/Male Continuum: Evidence from a Neuroimaging Connectivity Study”.
Read the event recap on https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/en/follow-hbp/news/2022/06/23/diversity-research-video-how-consider-sexgender-brain-research/ and rewatch the recording.
Launch of HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme on International Day of Girls and Women in Science
The last round of the HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme was launched on International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11th February 2022). It was developed by the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee and is designed for HBP early career stage scientists, researchers and managers of science. As individuals and the research community are very diverse, there are different reasons to support the mentoring programme: the lack of female role models in STEM, being part of a minority in the research community, struggling with the compatibility of work and family life as new father or having a different cultural background than the working environment are just some of the possible reasons. Therefore, the programme is for everyone who wants to support equal opportunities and who believes it can help them to pursue their professional career and personal development.
Mentors support their mentees in six to eight virtual meetings between April and December 2022, each no longer than an hour. To ensure a clear focus on strategic (personal) decisions and/or further career steps of interdisciplinary scientists and managers alike, guiding materials have been designed. Additionally, online accompanying training is offered for every HBP member interested in leadership and career development (session topics, dates and registration can be found here ). As it is specially shaped for the international and interdisciplinary needs of the HBP, these structures clearly differentiate the HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme from other mentoring programmes. For further info on mentoring, read the Blogpost on the HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme.
6th HBP Student Conference
The Task for Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity Management in the HBP was part of the 6th HBP Student Conference from 22 to 25 February 2022 in Innsbruck, Austria. A workshop, offering insights and hands-on-tools for inclusiveness in rules and practices of academic systems was held:
- Inclusive Success! How to develop your career by successfully networking within - and across - university structures and procedures
Detailed workshop description can be found via 6th HBP Student Conference
HBP Tea & Slides Special
In the HBP Tea & Slides XV Session (see Education E-Library), Karin Grasenick, Coordinator for Gender and Diversity in the HBP, elaborated the Diversity in Research Paper Award (DIRPA) and how to apply in the dedicated special "An award for diversity in research content: insights on why and how to apply".
Diversity is crucial in brain research as individuals have different brains, shaped by their biological traits, personal experiences and environments. Examples from the field of neuroscience, AI and machine learning illustrate that diversity in research content is also a key factor in technical innovations and developments. Therefore, considering diversity in research content is a requirement by default for Horizon Europe. Based on a brief trigger talk and examples from neuroscience and AI/machine learning, you are invited to discuss the relevance for your research.
Call Announcement for the Diversity in Research Paper Awards at EBRAINS Summit
The Diversity in Research Paper Awards (DIRPA) call invited applications for the Best Diversity in Research Papers, i.e. publications that consider diversity traits such as sex, gender, age, ethnicity, etc. in their specific field of research. Differentiating variables have been recognised to be relevant in brain research, robotics, and AI alike - from the level of stem cells to the reflected usage of data in order to avoid the replication of stereotypes.
DEOC members Sacha van Albada and Benjamin Weyers announced the call for submissions for the awards at the EBRAINS Summit on 14 October 2021: In a dedicated webinar in May 2022, nominees were awarded and presented to a large audience where they discussed their research in context of diversity with moderator Katrin Amunts and invited speakers Lutz Jäncke and Frances-Catherine Quevenco.
XI European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education
Pilar F. Romero, member of the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee, participated on 15 September 2021 in the XI European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education, presenting the approach of the Human Brain Project to equal opportunities as outlined in the Gender Action Plan and how it successfully counteracts the leaky pipeline.
Contributions to HBP events
Young Researchers Event
The "EBRAINS for next-generation brain medicine" took place virtually from 26 to 27 May 2021. In the Career Chat "How to develop a brainy career", early-stage researchers got to know HBP's measures for career development and had the exclusive chance to chat with Principal Investigators Svenja Caspers and Benjamin Weyers about success factors and relevant skills for academic careers.
5th HBP Student Conference
The Task for Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity Management in the HBP was part of the 5th HBP Student Conference from 1 to 4 February 2021. The conference took place virtually, organised and supported by the Education Programme Team. Two workshops were offered: One explored how diversity can be considered as research content with concrete examples related to brain research. The other one discussed the diversity of teams and equal opportunities in the context of career development.
HBP Tea & Slides
Do you have a vision for your career? Do you know how to work on and realise your vision? Do you want to learn more about important factors for your career development? The special edition of the HBP Tea & Slides on 5 November 2020 answered these and other questions. Check out the HBP Education E-Library for more information, further material and to rewatch the presentation.
"Of mice, men and machines - Exploring the diversity of research objects and target groups in neuroscience"
Scientific discovery is based on the novelty of questions you ask, that means if you want to discover something new, you have to ask a different question. Karin Grasenick, Coordinator for Gender and Diversity in the HBP, explored in the presentation “Of mice, men and machines” why diversity in research is crucial to make new discoveries. The session was held at the FENS 2020 related HBP events and also taken up in a blogpost.
Research depends on the questions asked, the models used, and the details considered. For this reason, it is important to reflect why certain variables are analysed or which aspects might play a role. An example for this is Machine Learning, which can be biased if the data the machines are trained with, is biased too. For example, applications to diagnose skin cancer in medicine more often fail to recognise tumours in darker skin correctly because they are trained using pictures of fair skin. Therefore, it is essential to consider aspects of diversity like gender, age, race, ethnicity, etc. There are several reasons for not training AI properly, among others cost issues or lack of training material for AI or simply because scientists did not think about diversity when choosing the training material or data. However, these examples show that diversity can even save lives.
Additionally, the diversity of the research team matters because diverse people perceive problems in different ways and use thus different methods and processes to solve them which makes diverse team more innovative.
For doing research, two questions must be asked to ensure that diversity is considered. Check out the session “Of mice, men and machines” to find out which questions these are. If you want to learn more about the role of diversity in research, read the blogpost on Common Challenges in Neuroscience, AI, Medical Informatics, Robotics and New Insights with Diversity & Ethics.
Continuation of HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme
In June 2020 the HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme was continued for its second round due to its successful first round. It was developed by the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee (former Gender Advisory Committee) and is designed for early career stage scientists, researchers and managers of science. Reasons to support the mentoring programme are diverse and thus it is for everyone who believes it can help them to pursue their professional career and personal development.
Mentors supported their mentees in six to eight virtual meetings between August 2020 and May 2021, each no longer than an hour. To ensure a clear focus on strategic (personal) decisions and/or further career steps of interdisciplinary scientists and managers alike, guiding materials have been designed. Additionally, virtual focus groups were offered for mentors and mentees were able to participate in the Peer Group Mentoring. As it is specially shaped for the international and interdisciplinary needs of the HBP, these structures clearly differentiate the HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme from other mentoring programmes. For further info on mentoring, read the blogpost on the HBP High Potential Mentoring Programme.
Report on Equal Opportunities in the HBP
In the last two years, the coordinators for gender mainstreaming and diversity management have implemented a Gender Action Plan (GAP) in the HBP in close collaboration with the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee DEOC (former Gender Advisory Committee GAC).
This package of strategies and measures considers gender as part of RRI and fosters measures to improve equal opportunities and career development alike (link).
The Report on the Implementation of the GAP shows that these measures were successful on several levels. The monitoring on gender balance and distribution has demonstrated that the overall gender balance in the HBP is comparable with related European fields of science and career levels and that the proportion of women in leadership positions has increased. On the level of individuals, for example, all participants of the mentoring programme gave positive feedback and could greatly benefit from it both professionally and personally.
In the last phase of the HBP, these activities for gender mainstreaming and diversity management are thus continued and complemented by further measures. This shows that the HBP is committed to enhance diversity, driven by the appreciation that equal opportunities across different cultures, disciplines, tasks, and sexes contribute to excellence, innovation, and collaboration.
20 Actions for 2020 and Beyond!
The HBP Commitment to Equal Opportunities and Inclusiveness on the International Women’s Day 2020
The HBP celebrated the International Women’s Day 2020 by publicly announcing that the HBP leaders have signed a letter of personal commitment to enhance equal opportunities and inclusiveness.
The members of the Science and Infrastructure Board (SIB) endorsed the letter and the attachments, which comprise a vision, the mission to follow the cascade model and a checklist .
The checklist gives each leader 20 action steps to care about: from reflecting statistics to a fair work distribution in teams and individual career development plans. Every person with a leadership responsibility is invited to join and sign the letter and choose those aspects from the checklist that can be applied to her or his position. HBP leaders thereby counteract the leaky pipeline and strive to implement the reference model of the HBP: Women and men are expected to be represented at each career level in proportion to the level below.
The initial figures are derived at the level of PhD students and Postdocs, based on ratios from sources like the European SHE FIGURES, and/or organisations considered as best practice for each Work Package or Task. If there is a significant difference, the responsible leaders will check closely to try to find the reason. If the reason is discrimination, the HBP will endeavour by all means to fix that.
Contributions to HBP events for early-stage researchers
4th HBP Student Conference
The Student Conference was immediately followed by a workshop day on 23 January 2020, which will included workshops on “diversity in research” and career planning. Attendees of the Student Conference were invited to participate in the workshop day free of charge. There is overwhelming evidence that diverse teams deliver stronger and more sustainable results in science and business. To harvest the benefits of diversity, HBP offers related workshops and interactive sessions at conferences.
Same, same or different? Neuroscience, robotics, AI and medical informatics: New insights with diversity
In this 2-day workshop, scientists from neuroscience, robotics, AI and medical informatics provided insights on how they consider variables such as sex, gender, age etc. Additionally, experts in ethics and diversity will introduce Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) concepts and their practical application.
Juliana Nnadi, presented a poster and reflected her experiences at:
The workshop also raised international interest, read the article at the NeuroEthicsBlog
3rd HBP Student Conference on Interdisciplinary Brain Research 6-8 Feb 2019
A workshop on career planning was offered on 8 February 2019 at the 3rd HBP Student Conference. This workshop for participants of all genders provided success factors and challenges for scientific and alternative career options; information on expected formal requirements and the importance of networks, informal rules and biases.; opportunities to reflect individual career goals and to build a roadmap on how to get there as well as to learn from sharing experiences with peers.
Dual Use and Responsible Research Conference
This session at the Dual Use and Responsible Research Conference from 15 - 17 Nov 2018 explored how diversity of research objects and/or target groups (that is e.g. differences of sex, age or other physical factors, psychological or societal factors) should be considered in order to improve the probability for robust and innovative findings – and last but not least: funding opportunities. Examples, guiding questions, tools and techniques for diversity research design and content were presented. RRI context was provided and discussed.
Contribution to the HBP Summit 2018
The Talent Session at the HBP Summit 2018 (15-18 Oct) offered hands on guidelines and support on recruiting and then 'science of team science' with a clear focus on equal opportunities in divers teams, regarding e.g. different disciplines, tasks, cultures, sexes, gender.
1st HBP Conference on Gender and Diversity
The first HBP Conference on Gender and Diversity took place in March 2018: