EC funds 'gender equality in science' study

EC funds 'gender equality in science' study

Summary: Despite the grant of €1m for research into making science careers more attractive to women, the British Computer Society is pessimistic

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TOPICS: IT Employment
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The European Commission has granted funding to academic organisations for the study of how to encourage women to enter scientific professions.

Despite the Commission's funding grants, the British Computer Society (BCS) has said the outlook for EU science research is "very depressing" and that the EU has not allocated enough money to encourage women into IT. 

The EU programme "Practising gender equality in science" (PRAGES) will compare various strategies implemented in Europe and in countries including the US, Australia and Canada that have promoted the presence of women in public scientific research institutions' decision-making bodies.

For the PRAGES programme, €1m (£740,000) will be shared between various European academic institutions, including the Universities of Manchester and Cambridge in the UK, the European Commission announced on Friday.

The Commission has also granted €750,000 to a project entitled "Mind the gap" which will gather, exchange, develop and disseminate good practice in inquiry-based science teaching. The aim of the project is to encourage more young people, especially girls, into science and technology careers. Participating European institutions include Bristol University in the UK.

However, the British Computer Society said that European Commission funding does not go far enough to address the lack of people in Europe seeking IT careers.

Dr Mike Rodd, director of external relations for the BCS, told ZDNet.co.uk on Monday that the future for EU science research seemed "very depressing". While ICT research in Europe received increased funding last year, Rodd said that the Commission has not allocated enough specific funding to encourage women into ICT.

"The BCS can only offer a cautious welcome to this EU initiative to encourage careers in science and technology, as the proposed funding would seem to offer little more than damage limitation," said Rodd. "The continuing downward trend amongst young people, particularly women, in choosing to study for and to pursue careers in science and technology is at an all-time low."

Rodd said that the lack of people pursuing science and technology careers spells real danger for the long-term global economic position of the UK and the rest of Europe.

"Unless greater focus and funding is forthcoming, the long-term future for the EU science research programme looks very depressing, especially as this will also impact across much of its industrial and manufacturing base," said Rodd.

The Commission granted €9bn for European research into IT in November last year. However, in December, auditors found that the Commission had inadequate measures in place to evaluate programme outcomes.

Topic: IT Employment

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • If you're smart enough to study math at university, read this, girl!

    I don't know what holds girls back from careers in science nowadays, but I do know what it was in the 1970s. Maybe less has changed than we think it has.

    Perhaps a different approach should be used from the usual ones. Don't forget that young girls are ... young girls! They are extremely receptive to endless advertising that sends the message that a ditzy, appearance-obsessed lifestyle is THE only desirable kind there is. The subtext is that if you spend four years studying difficult subjects, you WILL NEVER EVER BE LOVED and will probably die alone with nothing but a cat for company.

    This was certainly the subtext of the message being given us in the '70s.

    I am old now - 51 - and after a lifetime of "glamorous" ditzery, I have been studying math and computer science part-time for the last four years. You can read about my experiences <a href="http://penelope.jdsfriends.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=259&Itemid=84">
    here</a>.

    I deeply regret the stupidity with which I believed the lie that you couldn't be glamorous, attractive, sexy and loved AND be good at the sciences.
    alfrescissimo