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Straight talk Europe: Gender balance in research funding

Image: Orin Zebest [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

In his third column for Funding Insight, Olaf Svenningsen, a board member of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators and an executive at the University of Southern Denmark, explains how taking gender into consideration can improve the quality of research proposals.

I recently attended a seminar in Stockholm with the title Fördelning eller Förfördelning? The Swedish wordplay is hard to translate—a proxy could be Allocation or Dislocation?—but the correct translation is Fair or Unfair Distribution? The seminar was about gender in research and research funding: a topic that can evoke strong emotions, as I know from experience.

Back when I was a young, struggling scientist, a couple of experiences made me sceptical about gender equality. In the 1990s, science minister Carl Tham decided to create a number of positions to gain a gender balance among academic staff. I applied for a position as assistant professor, where gender balance was desired. Perfect, I thought, because all four of the assistant professors in my department were women. They were obviously looking for a man!

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