NordForsk at Gender Summit 9

Gender Summit 9 took place in Brussels on 8–9 November 2016, with 65 speakers offering their insight and expertise during the two-day event. Among these were former Chair of the NordForsk Board, Marja Makarow, and the project leaders of the two Nordic Centres of Excellence (NCoEs) recently established under the NordForsk programme Gender in the Nordic Research and Innovation Area.
NordForsk at Gender Summit 9

Overall, the event was attended by more than 250 participants from over 40 countries across the globe, representing academia, policymakers, media, industry and organisations working in areas related to science.

The Gender Summit’s aim is to make gender equality in research and innovation the norm and to embed gender as a primary dimension of quality. There have been eight Summits held since 2011, bringing together over 2500 participants. 

Lack of women in STEM

In her talk on “Promoting women innovators and advancing people's quality of life through research-based inventions” at the European Parliament, Professor Marja Makarow stated that although gender equality in the Nordic societies is generally well developed, it does not extend to the highest level of academia.

Professor Makarow also raised concern over the lack of women in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which she described as an urgent and global challenge.

“When women are underrepresented in STEM education, the consequences are that women are missing out on the fastest growing job market. If women don’t have STEM education, we don’t have women in STEM research, and when we don’t have women in STEM research, we don’t have women innovators. My conclusion is, that without proactive policy measures to support women in academia and in STEM research half of the talent available will be missing in creation of innovations which support growth and economic wellbeing in Europe.”

Two new NCoEs took the stage

The two NCoEs will help to build knowledge about how the Nordic countries can overcome the gender imbalance in research. Research professor and project leader Mari Teigen from the Nordic Centre for Research on Gender Equality in Research and Innovation (NORDICORE), also spoke at the summit.

“NORDICORE is seeking to generate knowledge to further advance gender balance and diversity in research and innovation. The future of the Nordic knowledge economy depends on the ability to encourage the most highly qualified men and women to excel in the field of research and research-based innovation,” she said and added:

“The project will also try to identify internal and external barriers to research organisations that impede gender equality and inclusion, and to suggest ways to overcome these barriers.”

Professor Gabriele Griffin took the stage after Teigen and showcased the upcoming work of the NCoE Beyond the Gender Paradox: Women’s Careers in Technology-Driven Research and Innovation In and Outside of Academe.

“Beyond the Gender Paradox focuses on exploring women’s careers in technology-driven work environments, and conducts action, solution-focused research and development research in these contexts. The NCoE will collaborate with regional and national actors to provide greater insight for the international scientific community and Nordic policymakers on how the various Nordic cultural and geographical contexts influence the opportunities for women to engage in innovation and research,” Professor Griffin explained.

Read more about the NordForsk programme Gender in the Nordic Research and Innovation Area

About the Gender Summit:

The Gender Summit is as a platform for dialogue where scientists, policymakers, gender scholars and stakeholders in science systems examine new research evidence showing when, why, and how biological differences (sex) and socio-cultural differences (gender) between females and males impact on outcomes. Read more here.

Text: Tor Martin Nilsen

Photo: Tor Martin Nilsen and Terje Heiestad



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