FNR seeks to double applications from female scientists

The FNR has set itself the goal to double the number of proposals from female researchers in its funding instruments PEARL and ATTRACT, and is appealing to host institutions to increase the number of research proposals submitted to the FNR by female researchers.

Gender balance in research was a thematic focus under Luxembourg’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015 and a set of conclusions were adopted with recommendations to address the issue of equality in the European Research Area (ERA).

Proportion of women decreases as research positions get more senior

An important insight of Luxembourg’s EU Presidency was that women remain underrepresented in research – especially in higher positions. Looking at the EU average, there are slightly more women than men on the level of university students and doctoral candidates. However, the further it goes up the career ladder, the more the proportion of women decreases.

For example, the EU average for the percentage of women in the highest academic professions (e.g. Professor) is only 20%. In Luxembourg this figure is even lower, with only 17% of female academics holding the most senior positions.

More women on scientific and administration boards

The inequality also stretches to the most senior positions at schools and research institutes. A report published by the European Commission (‘She Figures 2015’), shows that Luxembourg lags behind in most fields when it comes to gender balance.

One exception is scientific and administration boards, where Luxembourg ranks top for gender balance, alongside Sweden and the Netherlands. This trend is also reflected at the FNR, where both the Board and Scientific Council have a majority of female members.

Creating better conditions for female leadership in science

Better conditions must be created to enable female academics to reach the most senior research positions. As the main funder of research activities in Luxembourg, the FNR plays a significant role in recruiting researchers, particularly through its funding schemes ATTRACT and PEARL, designed to bring leading researchers to Luxembourg.

This gives the FNR the opportunity to tackle the issue of too few women in senior academic positions at the core. The FNR is appealing to host institutions to increase the number of research proposals submitted by female researchers to the FNR to 40% in the ATTRACT Programme and 30% in the PEARL programme.

Male and female success rates almost identical

As for the FNR’s other funding instruments, statistics show that the success rate for retained proposals is almost identical between male and female applicants (2007 – 2015, main FNR programmes)*. This shows that the evaluation procedure of the FNR does not have any significant distortions, which was also confirmed in a recent external and independent evaluation of the FNR’s CORE selection procedure.

*62% of all proposals submitted were from male researchers, 38% of all submitted were from female researchers. 63% of all proposals retained were from male researchers, 37% of all retained proposals were from female researchers. 

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