Back in 2015 CRG started the initiative to reach out a supportive hand to a particular group of the institute´s community, to those scientists who are combining excellent and ambitious scientific career with the parental duties. Being scientifically successful often demands flexible working hours which are an additional challenge for parents. Studies show that women are the ones who are mostly affected by the maternal leave and consequently discouraged in their scientific career (1).
Taking it into account, the Gender Balance Committee at the CRG took over responsibility of launching a new programme - Women Scientists Support Grant (WOSS) (2) aiming to provide a one-year financial support for women scientists, both Postdocs and PhD students of the CRG, who are willing to reach a leading position in research and have to fulfil maternity responsibilities at the same time.
The first WOSS call was open in December 2015 and followed by next editions every half a year ever since. June 2017 witnesses the 4th edition of the WOSS Programme, thanks to the continuous advocacy of Isabelle Vernos (chair of the CRG Gender Balance Committee) on the level of the institute´s direction as well as her engagement to the work of the high-level evaluation committee. Until today 7 scientists have been granted each a monthly salary top-up of 400€ for one year.
“… (the grant) helped me to reach my deadline in more accurate manner and also to extend my scientific vision.”
“… I was able to progress substantially in my project … with the publication in hand, I can apply for independent positions…”
“…this grant could be good motivation to all women scientists in CRG and even outside…”
The active and open collaboration of the participants allowed us to adjust the requirements of the grant to the needs of the CRG community, e.g. to provide the opportunity for grantees to apply for prolongation of the support for one more year.
Not only the WOSS Programme was positively accepted within the institute’s community, over 15 scientists applied for the grant, but also encouraged other research institutes in Barcelona to follow the CRG example. The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) is launching a WOSS Programme across the six member institutes (including CRG) starting next year.
The gender positive discrimination in favour of women is often discussed to possibly increase perception of inequality between men and women. However, CRG decided that due to uneven share of parental leave common in Spain, a support grant favouring women scientists is justified and desirable.
Offering extra financial support together with other LIBRA-related opportunities, CRG wants to enable women scientists to follow their passion in research and develop into a leader in their field.
- Shen, H. Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap. Nature 495, 22-24, doi:10.1038/495022a (2013).
- We acknowledge support of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, ‘Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2013-2017’, SEV-2012-0208