While this NCCR recognizes that gender stereotypes exist in various areas of life we are strongly committed to assure that the fundamental right of equality between men and woman can be exercised in our group of researchers. To underline these efforts we have invited the renowned Center for Gender Studies (CGS, Basel University) to become our critical scientific partner. Being supported and assessed by this group of scientists continuously in light of the state of the art gender research shall enable us to identify and wherever necessary correct our own professional patterns of behaviour in this field. Particularly the issue of gender bias in the recruitment process and within the structures of everyday work life will play a pivotal role here. Together with the Center for Gender Studies we will:
1. Analyse the EO approach of this NCCR in the past.
2. Develop an action plan which will help us improve our efforts and lead to more measurable results.
3. Advance the recruitment of female professors.
4. Support particularly female PhD students to continue in their scientific careers.
5. Rethink and where necessary redefine our concept of equality at large (→inclusion).
The project entitled “Gender & Science. Analysing Gender Structures in the NCCR MSE” has started on 1 June 2018 and is designed for three years. It aims at developing tools to support female researchers in their career and designing gender & diversity trainings for project leaders.
Andrea Zimmermann (CGS)
Fleur Weibel (CGS)
Andrea Maihofer (CGS)
Hala Helmy (NCCR MSE)
The project team has devised a questionnaire to follow up on the research results from the first phase of our cooperation project “Gender & Science” with the Center of Gender Studies and the NCCR MSE Equal Opportunities. The aim of the questionnaire was to collect information to deepen the knowledge about understanding the current lab structure, analyzing the quality of scientific supervision and personal support within the group and developing unified recruitment procedures.
Zoom Meeting on recruitment procedures
The research of Gender & Science in the NCCR MSE and the results of the questionnaire showed, that there are different recruitment strategies within the groups, a wish for clear processes, criteria and transparency of those involved in the recruitment process and a general risk of having unconscious biases affect our decision making.
The goal of the online session for PIs on the 14th of September, held by EO Officer Hala Helmy, was to gain more insight into the whole recruitment process from the employer’s and the applicant’s perspective with a particular focus on job advertisements and the importance of wording used in those ads, how to prepare for a fair and transparent interview process and how existing unconscious biases can be detected and avoided. Following the presentation a lively discussion amongst the participants ensued sharing and exchanging individual practices, the challenges of hiring and tipps that help PI’s to make the right choice for the right candidate. A copy of the slides, a summary checklist for your reference with all the major points discussed and a recording of the session are available.
Do not hesitate to contact Hala Helmy for support in any of the recruitment phases.
Women are credited less in science than are men
There is a well-documented gap in the observed number of scientific works produced by women and men in science. Ross et al. show that this “productivity gap” may not be a gap in the contribution of women to science but rather a gap in how much their contributions are recognized and valued. In other words: women are not less productive, but their work is undervalued as they are systematically less likely to be named as authors on articles and patents.
The analysis of quantitative and qualitative data by Ross et al. shows, that women are significantly less likely to be named on any article or patent produced by their team relative to their peers. A survey of authors points out, that women’s scientific contributions are less likely to be recognized. The qualitative data confirms this statement by showing that women’s work is often not known, not appreciated or ignored. The result appears to be that women are systematically disadvantaged.
While Ross et al. focus on gender, the gaps in the survey were also reported for other marginalized groups.
Source: Ross, M. B. et al. (2022) : Women are Credited Less in Science than are Men. Nature,
The quantitative data from the survey and the results of the first phase of the project are now being analyzed to develop and implement measures. The results will be presented end of February 2022.
Gender & Science. Transforming Gender Structures in the NCCR MSE Phase 2
Based on the interesting research results of Phase I of our collaboration with the Gender & Science Team, we were very happy to start Phase I in June 2021. The goal of this second phase is to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data from Phase I, to carve out and implement measures based on our findings and undertake further research where needed.
The following five areas will be the focus of our continued research and future program:
1. Lab management
2. Male dominated spaces
4. Supporting female talents
5. Becoming a Role Model in Swiss Science
"Being the only woman is not particular fun" - Gender Inequality in Natural Sciences
Dr. Andrea Zimmermann, Centre for Gender Studies, was invited to speak at a webinar about Gender Equality and Diversity in the Natural Sciences.
Fifty years ago, women in Switzerland obtained the right to participate at votes and elections at the federal level. This was a cornerstone for political and societal equality, but gender inequality is still reality for women. How has women’s representation in Natural Sciences developed since this historical event? The talk draws attention to the history and to the current situation of women at Swiss Universities in Science. It also discusses the development of gender policies at universities, with focus on the Natural Sciences and lines out pressing issues on the move to more gender equality, as ‘women and excellence’ is still regarded as a contradiction.
On the 20th and 21th November the "Think Tank Gender & Diversity" hosted the online conference "Critical Gender and Diversity Knowledge. Challenges and Prospects". Andrea Zimmermann and Fleur Weibel co-organized the panel "Männliche Räume der Macht. Wie gelingt eine Transformation der Geschlechterordnung in Wissenschaft und Politik?" in which they spoke about the cooperation project "Gender & Science". Together with the other panelists Tamara Funiciello, Simona Isler, Raquel Delgado Moreira and Sarah Schilliger they discussed about necessary steps and impulses to achieve a structural and cultural transformation of the gender ratio in science and politics.
On the 4th and 5th November the "Scientific Excellence and Equality - a Contradiction" conference took place. Dr. Tom Welton was invited as key-speaker. In a second session, Fleur Weibel and Andrea Zimmermann presented their findings of the cooperation-project "Gender and Science: Analysing Gender Structures in the NCCR MSE". The outcomes and measures were discussed lively within the participants.
In the "ZDfm- Zeitschrift für Diversitätsforschung und -management 2/2020" Fleur Weibel and Andrea Zimmermann published an article with the title "Gender & Science. Das Potenzial von Inclusion für die Transformation wissenschaftlicher Machtverhältnisse am Beispiel eine nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkts".
On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, the University of Basel featured an exhibition on famous female scientists and hosted a public panel discussion with guests from industry and research. On behalf of the cooperation project “Gender & Science”, Fleur Weibel was one of the panelists and discussed strategies for increasing gender balance in science.
Fleur Weibel from the research team "Gender & Science" attended the NCCR Exchange Platform on Equal Opportunities organized by the SNSF on November 8, 2019. The presentations and posters of the equal opportunity officers of the sixteen NCCRs allowed us to gain an impression of the different strategies and measures that are currently being applied in the NCCRs to promote equal opportunities. The meeting also gave us the chance to deepen contacts with exponents of the SNSF and other NCCRs who showed great interest in our cooperation project with the NCCR MSE.
Four researchers with expertise in the field of STEM, Gender and Science Studies have confirmed to be part of the scientific advisory board. The research team „Gender & Science“ is really happy to discuss its findings and further steps with the following experts:
Prof. Dr. Anelis Kaiser
Professor for Gender Studies in STEM at the Department for Computer Science, University of Freiburg i.Br. Main research topics are a.o. feminist neuroscience, inter- and transdisciplinarity between Science and Gender Studies and Neurogenderings.
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Professor of Science and Technology Policy, Munich Center for Technology in Society, TU Munich. Prof. Müller holds degrees in molecular biology (M.Sc.) and sociology (PhD). Her research explores the interactions between science policy and research practices, including issues of justice, responsibility and equity in science. She is an expert in interdisciplinary collaboration.
Prof. Dr. Markus Prechtl
Professor for chemical education at the TU Darmstadt. He is interested in the players and the organization of the natural sciences and looks into the subject of the stereotypical image of the particular sciences. He currently manages the project DiSenSu for career orientation for girls with a migration background.
Dr. habil. Sigrid Schmitz
Until 2018 visiting professor for Gender & Science at the HU Berlin.
Her main research interests are the dialogue between Gender Studies and STEM and brainresearch/ modern neocultures and gender. Currently she is a lecturer at the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Basel.
The center for gender studies’ research team had the chance to meet internationally-known advocate of equality in sciences and renowned professor for chemistry, Paul Walton, for an expert interview. Later in the day he gave a talk at the SeminBar about „Gender equality: why is it taking so long?“ which was followed by lively discussions. With this very interesting and rewarding encounter the explorative phase of the research project „Gender & Science“ has successfully come to an end. The research team wishes everyone an enjoyable summer and will be back in a few weeks for the second research phase with the main interview series with PhDs, Postdocs and PIs of the NCCR MSE.
The research team "Gender & Science" participated with a presentation on the current representation of women in the NCCRs (see picture) and a workshop on 'Life planning, Career & Gender' at the Fellow Retreat 2019. During the retreat, there were exciting discussions with Fellows and PIs and the research team gained many exciting insights.
The cooperation project is already proving to be very fruitful and the team looks forward to continuing the cooperation.
During participant observations in the labs the research team "gender & science" gained interesting insights into the daily routine and the activities of the NCCR MSE. As a next step interviews with experts are going to take place. The research team of the Center of Gender Studies at Basel University is looking forward to the ongoing collaboration with the NCCR MSE in the coming year.