Universities and scientific laboratories should bring in quotas to boost the number of women in management positions, the European commissioner for research, science and innovation has said.
Addressing a Women in Science conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on 25 September, Carlos Moedas said that quotas had already been introduced on expert groups and advisory panels for the Horizon 2020 research funding scheme.
“So I think that we have hit a point of no return,” he told MEPs. “At some point we should have quotas for management positions in universities and science labs.”
He added: “I don’t ever want to hear again that we ‘cannot find’ enough women for these groups. Females make up 51 per cent of the global population.”
The EU is currently drawing up plans for Horizon Europe, the successor to Horizon 2020.
Mr Moedas praised existing schemes to help female researchers, which allow academics who have taken a break to restart their careers.
This is “so that everyone has an equal chance to reach their potential”, he said. “And that’s why I am exploring with my services how we could extend this way of working to Horizon Europe.”
Mr Moedas also warned that it was a “myth” that “women in science have already made enough progress”. There has been worrying backsliding on the number of women in computer science, he said.
Attitudes have still not changed enough, he added – and pointed to a recent obituary of a rocket scientist, which opened by saying that she could cook a “mean beef stroganoff”.