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Concerned about gender imbalances in many fields of research, the Scientific Council – the governing body of the European Research Council (ERC), which is headed by Prof. Helga Nowotny – has recently adopted a gender equality plan. The plan was prepared by ERC’s gender balance working group and is valid for the period until 2013, coinciding with the end of the present EU financial framework. The plan lays down a number of objectives to be achieved in terms of gender balance.
ERC’s actions in this area will be directed towards three main goals, namely
• to increase the number of top female researchers applying for ERC funding, by more efficiently raising awareness about grant opportunities;
• to articulate a clear message that equal opportunities and treatment are core elements of ERC grant competitions, while scientific excellence remains the prime criterion for selections; and
• to ensure balanced gender representation within the ERC peer review system.
According to current statistics, only one-fifth of ERC grant holders are women, a share which seems, at least in part, due to the lower numbers of applications submitted by women. The Scientific Council of the ERC, together with the Director of ERC’s Executive Agency, are responsible for the implementation of actions foreseen in the gender equality plan.