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Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The ICN2 renews its commitment to promote gender balance and diversity

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, on March 9 the ICN2 hosted an event to discuss about gender balance in research and present the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan II, which was launched in 2019 and will extend up to 2022.

The ICN2 has celebrated the International Women’s Day with a dedicated event organized by the Equal Opportunities Committee. It was aimed at presenting the actions that our research centre has been putting into place or has planned for the next future in order to guarantee gender balance in research and, in particular, in our institution.

The discussion was opened by Dr Neus Domingo, CSIC Distinguished Researcher at the ICN2 Oxide Nanophysics Group and Chair of the ICN2 Equal Opportunities Committee, who introduced the initiatives that will be launched or continued within the second Equal Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan. They involve different aspects of the management policy of our centre, from the recruitment and career development processes, to the visibility given to female researchers and their work, to the management and valorization of any kind of diversity. Dr Domingo also reported on the effort that the Equal Opportunities Committee is making to collect data about gender balance in scientific publications and career progression within our institute, with the aim of designing corrective actions and evaluating the initiatives put into place.

With regards to this topic, a recent study, which carried out an historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers across countries and disciplines, revealed that a large portion of the reported unbalances in productivity and impact are due to differences in publishing career lengths and gender-specific dropout rates, rather than to an actual smaller yearly productivity of female scientists. Indeed, it appears that men and women publish at a comparable annual rate and have equivalent career-wise impact for the same size body of work. This suggests that equal opportunities actions have to focus on the sustainability of woman’s careers in academia, with important administrative and policy implications.

The ICN2 Equal Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan II was further described by other members of the Equal Opportunities Committee, starting from Julio Gomez, Head of the Human Resources Department. He introduced the HR-related actions and explained how gender balance issues are taken into account and integrated in the recruitment process and how the ability to attract female talents is monitored. Other important initiatives, such as the establishment and diffusion of a protocol against harassment in the workplace, have also been introduced.

Àlex Argemí, Head of the ICN2 Marketing and Communication Department, followed on the stage to introduce the new actions that will be implemented to give more visibility to the excellent research carried out by women and, at the same time, “normalize” it, which means show that it is everyday practice and not the exception. The institute is also working in supporting equal opportunities by giving a more realistic image of the diversity that actually exists in our research groups and departments.

In order to inspire women and promote successful role models, a series of lectures about female leadership in research and other professional fields will be hosted at the ICN2. Outstanding women coming from different environments will bring their personal experience and perspective, igniting discussions on woman leadership and empowerment. Dr Belén Ballestreros, leader of the ICN2 Electron Microscopy group, introduced this initiative and was able to announce two invited speakers who have already confirmed their participation. They will be Prof. María Blasco Marhuenda, molecular biologist and Director of the Spanish National Centre for Cancer Research (CNIO), and Mònica Terribas i Sala, journalist and director of the daily programme “El matí de Catalunya Radio”

The event was closed with the announcement of the winners of the Women Talent Programme research grants, an initiative included in the framework of the Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence 2018-2022 Programme, which is meant to support research projects proposed by young and senior female researchers. The first year’ grants were awarded to Dr Emily Nguyen, of the ICN2 Nanobiolectronics and Nanosensors Group, who was chosen in the Junior category for her project about “Evaluation of MoP for biosensing”, and Dr Adriana Figueroa, of the Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group, who was selected in the Senior category to carry out a project on “TeraHertz emitters with spintronic devices”.