Between Ambition and Reality: The Role of Gender Representation Rules in European Scientific Advisory Councils

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:25 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Alison E. WOODWARD , Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

Research Councils are crucial gatekeepers to academic power. Substantial research indicates that gender skewed scientific advisory and review boards play a role in the underrepresentation of women receiving scientific grants.  Since the mid-nineties many European scientific advisory bodies have adapted guidelines about the gender composition of their panels, either compelled by national legislation and European directives or voluntarily. European Union scientific review boards are supposed to be composed at the 40%/60% level, for example.  However the adaption of guidelines and the implementation and monitoring of guidelines are not always linked. Quota’s  generate controversy, even among female scholars.  Further, the re-alignment of the European Research Area may mean that ambitions of representation become lost thanks to neo-liberal arguments about an undefined and ambiguous concept of ‘excellence.’  This paper documents the present state of affairs in terms of regulation, the resistance to quota regulations and the extent to which there is compliance with regulations in the composition of panels and management.  The implications for research councils and gender equity in decision-making will be discussed.  Contextual and structural factors of legislation, leadership, peer pressure, Europeanization, monitoring and bureaucratic capacity are identified as contributing to differing outcomes. Concretely, the paper treats the major European players in transnational funding and management:  European Science Foundation, the nascent Science Europe, the European Research Council and the Commission of the European Union.