EuroScientist, the non-profit grassroots association of researchers in Europe, has explored triggers in academic environments that lead to explicit and implicit bias against women.  

To better understand the dynamics of explicit and implicit bias in gender inequality, EuroScientist has tried to identify triggers in academic environments that lead to both forms of prejudice. A conclusion after consulting several studies and a series of experts? The science arena must become gender sensitive, and strive to include male and female gender dimensions from a holistic point of view.

Societal and cultural triggers

In the quest to pinpoint preconceptions that cause gender differences in science organizations, EuroScientist contributor Vanessa Schipani and her interviewees in part reduce the male dominated career ladder to societal and cultural traditions. It’s only logical. Unequal distribution of domestic labour or the history of a country’s political or socio-economic structure affect gender balance. 

Men have gender too 

But there is more. Society and culture may affect the balance between men and women. Scientific findings also affect members of each sex and gender differently, Maren Jochimsen, managing director of the Essen College of Gender Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany points out. “Everyone looks to women” to address gender equality and the gender dimension in research. Why!? Men have gender, too.”

For the sake of (e)quality

Change is coming. Due to gender oriented law suits that defy male oriented scientific regimes, but also thanks to national diversity programs that seek to understand how different types of bias sway academia towards men, promising directives for rebalancing gender influence in science are defined.  If there is a will, there is way.

Forcing quotas? Not quite. And implementing one rebalancing gender solution to flip the coin in all European countries will probably not bring the desired change. ‘The solutions have to come from members of both genders’, adds Jochimsen, ‘Addressing gender in research should not be for the sake of women, she says—it should be for the sake of scientific quality.’ It is a vision we at the Royal NIOZ gladly share.

The Royal NIOZ is part of a national program for gender equality, initiated by the Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).If you like to learn more about the NWO Gender Diversity Program and/or gender balance in Dutch research funding, please click this link.

Looking for some female scientific advice? Try one of these: Dutch network of Women Professors (LNVH) or the international portal of AcademiaNet, a database of expert female researchers.