Europe hears calls for increasing the participation of women in science and the information society

May 8, 2003

Brussels, 07 May 2003

Women in science and information technology was the topic of conversation at two events in Europe on 5 May. While EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou was calling for equality for women in the information society, the German Minister for Education and Research, Edelgard Bulmahn, was appealing to employers to take responsibility for ensuring equality for women in science.

'Progress has been made and women recognise the value of new technologies,' said Ms Diamantopoulou at an Athens congress on gender and the information society. 'At a political level, the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, is setting up the necessary infrastructures [...] in an effort to facilitate the integration of women in this sector. It is a slow and difficult process and I call on all women to mobilise and take the lead in building and reaping the benefits of the information society,' she said.

Men still hold two thirds of all jobs in the information technology (IT) sector, and while 19 per cent of PhDs in the field are awarded to women in the EU, far fewer go on to set up their own businesses.

Opening a university rectors' conference in Dresden, Germany on 5 May, Edelgard Bulmahn emphasised that equality in science should not only be an issue for women, but for employers. Neglecting women leads to a huge waste of talent and competence, said the minister.

Ms Bulmahn noted that almost a half of today's scientists will be retiring within the next ten years. 'We have to use this generation change in order to significantly increase the proportion of women with professorships and in the top positions,' she appealed. The minister would like to see women constituting one fifth of professors.

Increasing the number of women in top research posts is a priority for the German government. 30.7 million euro is currently set aside annually for the 'Equality of opportunity for women in research and learning' programme, which supports women seeking a professorship.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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