Wasted talents: female researchers in Eastern Europe

New figures show that many promising female scientists in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states are squeezed out of well-funded research opportunities to the benefit of their male colleagues. “A waste of talent” complains the Commission.

A new report by the Commission paints a dire picture of the situation of women researchers in Central and Eastern European countries and the Baltic states. Although more than one third of scientists in these countries are female (compared to only 27.2 per cent in the EU-15), the report shows that a large proportion of women researchers are employed in areas where R&D expenditure is poor. As a result, women are squeezed out of competitive, high-expenditure R&D systems and the progress of a whole generation of promising scientists is hampered.

The younger generation of scientists faces the same dilemma as in many other European countries. In spite of their potential for a scientific career, social and economic factors and structural conditions of the research systems make it difficult for them to pursue their career while having children.

According to the findings, men are three times more likely to reach senior academic positions than women. While women represent the majority of teaching staff in universities, their careers tend to stop in lower academic positions.

As for EU research programmes, the report shows that a high percentage of female researchers from Eastern Europe participate in the framework programmes. Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin welcomed this fact as one of the objectives of EU programmes is to boost the participation of women in research.

 

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