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The need to upgrade measures to ensure greater gender parity and inclusion in STEM fields

Question écrite de Mme Radka MAXOVÁ - Commission européenne


Subject: The need to upgrade measures to ensure greater gender parity and inclusion in STEM fields

The fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) represent the cornerstone of research and innovation in the health sector in Europe. However, unlike other fields, there is a substantial gender gap at higher levels1, with the share of female and vulnerable workers dropping significantly beyond PhD level.

Promoting gender equality and inclusion in STEM by supporting early-career researchers helps address the under-representation of women and vulnerable workers in these fields. This can contribute to creating a more diverse and inclusive scientific community, thereby leading to more innovative solutions and better outcomes.

1. What measures are being taken to ensure greater gender parity and inclusion at post-doctoral levels in STEM fields?

2. Given that research and innovation in health technology typically has long turnover times due to multidisciplinarity and the involvement of patients and biomedical data, how is the Commission working to ensure equal access to opportunities and to support women and vulnerable workers in STEM careers so as to promote a more diverse and inclusive scientific community?

3. Is the Commission planning any new instruments to support researchers and principal investigators following career breaks with dedicated financial instruments?

Submitted:19.3.2024

1 European Commission, SHE Figures Report , 2021, at https://ec.europa.eu/research-

andinnovation/en/knowledge-publications-tools-and-data/interactive-reports/she-figures-2021.

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 23 mai 2024

Answer given by Ms Ivanova on behalf of the European Commission

(24 May 2024)

The Commission is deeply committed to advancing gender equality and inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields (2), both in policy and funding, and actively monitors progress in Europe through its She Figures report (3).

Crosscutting provisions for gender equality have been strengthened in Horizon Europe (4). Having a Gender Equality Plan in place is an eligibility criterion. It contributes to structural changes towards more gender equality in academic and research institutions across Europe.

One of the objectives of the European strategy for universities adopted by the Commission in January 2022 (5) is to increase the participation of women in STEM. Several funded initiatives support this, including the STREAM IT projec t (6) which aims to empower women and marginalised groups and foster inclusive careers. Likewise, actions like the Women TechEU programme support gender-diverse innovation ecosystems (7).

The Council Recommendation on a European framework to attract and retain research, innovation and entrepreneurial talents in Europe (8), adopted in December 2023, aims to better address gender equality, diversity and precarious working conditions for researchers. Its implementation will be supported by the Commission through various actions, including under the Horizon Europe work programme part dedicated to strengthening the European Research Area (9).

Regarding research career breaks, no new instruments are planned at this stage, but Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions offer Postdoctoral Fellowships with special allowances for family breaks, long-term leave and special needs. The European Research Council’s peer review process also takes career breaks and diverse research career paths into account.

1 ∙ ⸱ European Commission, SHE Figures Report , 2021, at https://ec.europa.eu/research-andinnovation/en/knowledge-publications-tools-and-data/interactive-

reports/she-figures-2021. 2 ∙ ⸱

Article 7(6) of the Horizon Europe Regulation, OJ L 170, 12/05/2021. 3 ∙ ⸱ The forthcoming edition, She Figures 2024, will be released later this year. 4 ∙ ⸱ https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe_en 5 ∙ ⸱ COM(2022)16, 18.01.2022. 6 ∙ ⸱

https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101131843 7 ∙ ⸱

In 2023, EUR 15 million for the Women TechEU scheme funded under the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) work programme of Horizon Europe, supporting women-led early-stage deep tech startups through early-stage financing, coaching, and mentoring. EUR 70 600 were also allocated to the Women Leadership Programme run by the European Innovation Council (EIC), in partnership with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The EIC Accelerator also funded 32 women-led deep tech startups for EUR 186 million. In addition, EUR 320 000 were allocated to the EU Prize for Women Innovators. 8 ∙ ⸱

C/2023/1640, 29/12/2023. 9 ∙ ⸱

https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe/horizon-europe-work- programmes_en#work-programmes-under-horizon-europe

















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