On 1 December 2015, the Council adopted conclusions on the promotion of gender equality in research, an issue that is pivotal to the completion and implementation of the European Research Area (ERA).
The conclusions outline a number of measures to achieve this goal. For example, they invite Member States and research funding organizations (RFOs) to encourage the development of gender equality plans in research performing organizations (RPOs). In addition, Member States and RFOs are called upon to take measures so as to eliminate gender bias in the allocation of research funding. Furthermore, the conclusions urge RPOs to create a family-friendly and flexible working environment. Recognizing that women represent a mere 20% of full professors in Europe, the Council also invites Member States and institutions to establish guiding targets for a better gender balance among professors.
In light of the underrepresentation of women in top academic decisionmaking positions, the formulation of guiding targets in scientific and administrative boards is equally welcomed. Finally, the Council urges the Commission to strengthen the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of gender equality objectives in Horizon 2020. Importantly, the Council conclusions stress that, besides being an issue of fairness, the promotion of gender equality in research also has economic relevance. In other words, it will contribute to EU competitiveness and to growth and job creation.