Technische Universität Wien
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Elizabeth Pollitzer PhD

Keynote: Changing the Meaning of Normal Science

Thursday 4 September, 11:00 - 12:30

With the inclusion of gender as a criterion of success in Horizon 2020, and in the European Research Area, the quest to mainstream gender into EU policies and programmes, and in particular in the context of science, has taken a giant leap forward.  Horizon 2020 introduces a paradigm change in how the role of gender in science is perceived.  It confronts the illusion that 'science is gender neutral' by identifying gender as a cross cutting issue; as a dimension of research quality; and as an equality issue.  Proposals are expected to respond by showing if and how these considerations of gender fit into their project.  Whilst gender equality is a concept that science community is well acquainted with, the concept of gender dimension and the cross cutting role will be new to most researchers and their institutions.  In my talk, I will focus on these two aspects of the new paradigm.  Using research evidence and scientific consensus why actions are needed to improve quality of research and researcher training, I will show what practitioners, policy makers, administrators and researchers themselves can do to help integrate the new considerations of gender into scientific knowledge and practice.


Elizabeth Pollitzer has been director of Portia since 2001. Portia was set up by a group of women scientists at Imperial College London to promote actions improving women's place in science, as well as understanding of gender issues affecting quality of research and innovation. Until 2005 she was working at the Department of Computing at Imperial. Since then, through Portia, she focused on projects that bring scientists, gender scholars, and policy makers together to assess research evidence and arrive at a consensus on the actions that must be taken to make science fair, effective, and responsive to societal needs - women's and men's. The most significant of these efforts was the FP7 funded project genSET, which Portia coordinated, and which involved science leaders in considering gender research and advising science institutions, including the European Commission, on what were the common gender problems in science and what must be done to correct them. This advice 'from science leaders for science leaders' led to the formation in 2011 of Gender Summit as a platform where scientists, gender scholars and policy makers, as well as other stakeholders in science, can discuss new gender research and assess how it can be used to improve quality of research and innovation, and make science institutions better. The 2012 Gender Summit took place at the European Parliament, during the debate on Horizon 2020 budget, and, with the efforts of other groups, helped ensure that gender was included in Horizon 2020 as a criterion of success. In 2013 the Gender Summit was introduced to North America, under the leadership of NSF, and in 2015, it will be introduced to Africa and to Asia, and then in 2016 to Latin America. In 2011, she was member of the EC Expert Group on structural change. In her lecture she will review the key advancements on gender issues in science that have been made in Europe in the last few years and consider if sustainable change is at last happening, and if soon the 'leaky pipeline' will be committed to history.