Central European Centre for Women and Youth in Science kicks off

Photo: European Commission

Are you a young Central European scientist who'd like to start a project but are clueless as to where to look for funding? Or maybe you are a woman scientist who's looking for a research partner? To answer those and many other needs, a new Central European centre, funded by the European Commission, has just been set up, aiming to promote women and young people in science.

Studies have shown that women are underrepresented in official scientific networks. But they are also largely excluded from informal "old boy" networks, and so they need to find ways to meet and swap experiences and information.

"The support activities will entail training activities for young women researchers, then we will develop several training manuals; one will be on the inclusion of gender dimension in research projects. Then we are developing a database of women experts in the region which is one of the most important tools to improve the involvement of women researchers from this region in international research cooperation. And then we also have activities specifically aimed at young people in research. A web section will be dedicated to this, we will have a discussion forum where people will be able to talk about various problems they face with mobility or work-life balance or various other issues they may be facing."

Says Marcela Linkova from the Czech organisation Women in Science which is coordinating the Central European project that kicked off two weeks ago. One of the first questions that come to mind is how can people find out about the centre in the first place?

"We were supposed to collect information about women in science, so we used extensively the Czech websites of universities and the Academy of Sciences and collected e-mail addresses to all of them. And we have just now started sending out information about the database and other activities of the centre. And in fact we have already had several women register in the expert database."

Photo: European Commission
Let's say I am a scientist who'd like to use the services of the Central European Centre for Women and Youth in Science. What could be my specific demands?

"Well, one, for example, may be that you want to find a research partner for your project in another country and you don't really know where to start such a search. So in this case, you go to our centre and we will help find a research partner. Another example is that we will have training on so-called 'responsible conduct of science', which will then be disseminated at national level and this training will also involve training in project management and proposal writing, which are very important so-called 'soft skills' in science. You don't learn them at universities and it is difficult to know exactly what to do. Then we will take this training manual and disseminate it further in the Czech Republic. So we aim to train a hundred people a year in the Czech Republic."