A European observatory for women in science is being proposed as part of the Fifth Framework research programme, Edith Cresson told a joint European Parliament/Commission meeting on women and science this week.
The observatory, housed in the commission's research directorate, would aim to raise the profile of women in European science and engineering research.
It would collect and monitor statistics to help ensure a significant presence of women in research evaluating committees and set up a network of women scientists.
Delegates heard that there was still a shortage of women in science and engineering, particularly at higher levels. In academia the number of women in top positions is not improving. In the UK just 8 per cent of science professors are female. "The figures are very bad," said Cambridge University's Nancy Lane. "Women are not represented at senior level across Europe in any of the sciences."
Delegates called for less ageism in appointments, more flexible contracts, confidence building projects, mentoring and childcare.