New €3m European research project promotes women in science

A major initiative involving Birkbeck, University of London, and partners across Europe is promoting women in science.

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Women remain underrepresented in scientific and technological fields. It is important to address this inequality. - Helen Lawton Smith, Professor of Entrepreneurship in Birkbeck's Department of Management

(PRWEB UK) 27 February 2014

Staff at Birkbeck, University of London, are championing the role of female academics in scientific subjects as part of a five-country European project. The new initiative involves testing a blueprint designed to raise the status of women in scientific and technological organisations. There is a particular focus on encouraging women during the early stages of their scientific careers.

The total project is worth €3,284,000 and also involves institutions in Italy, France, Spain and the Czech Republic. Birkbeck will receive €400,000 for its participation in the Transforming Institutions by Gendering contents and Gaining Equality in Research (TRIGGER) grant. The project is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (€2,179,000) the Italian Government (€700,000) and the partners involved.

As part of the four-year applied research project, nine actions will be taken at Birkbeck. These include:

  • Systematic observation of potentially discriminating formal/informal behaviours and recommendations for action
  • Promoting the inclusion of women scientists in external collaborative arrangements
  • Developing a permanent mentoring programme and handbook of best practice
  • Mainstream teaching module on gender for PhD courses
  • Creation of structural opportunities for the commercialisation of women’s work in research and innovation

The activities mainly involve Birkbeck’s School of Science, and the Departments of Economics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Computer Science and Information Systems in Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics (BEI).

Athena SWAN award
The project builds on Birkbeck’s existing commitment to promoting female academics. Its efforts have already been recognised as Birkbeck’s School of Science won an Athena SWAN award in 2012. The Athena SWAN Charter recognises and celebrates good employment practice for women working in science, engineering and technology (SET) in higher education and research. It aims to assist the recruitment, retention and progression of women in SET.

TRIGGER project at Birkbeck
Helen Lawton Smith, Professor of Entrepreneurship in Birkbeck’s Department of Management, is leading Birkbeck’s participation in the project. She said: “Women remain underrepresented in scientific and technological fields. It is important to take action to address this inequality. As well as supporting women’s careers, this project will study the impact of our actions. It will also be fascinating to compare our experiences with institutions elsewhere in Europe.”

The TRIGGER project at Birkbeck is managed by a board of 14 staff, including academics and employees from the School of Science, School of BEI and Human Resources. A research assistant and PhD student are also part of the research project. Information about applying for the PhD studentship is available online.


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