Diversity in Action conference | Council Chamber | 30 September

Promoting sustainable excellence through diversity in research careers, by Dr Pippa Wells (CERN) and Dr Claartje Vinkenburg (VU University Amsterdam).


Wednesday, 30 September
1.30 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.
Council Chamber

To register, please click here.

Excellence is a non-negotiable in science, a necessary condition for a successful career as well as the funding of research projects. Scientific excellence is the sole criterion used by the European Research Council (ERC) to award frontier research grants. However, statistics show that there are still persistent inequalities between men and women scientists in ERC funding success as well as other career outcomes. 

Dr Claartje Vinkenburg, of the VU University of Amsterdam, will illustrate two projects commissioned by the ERC Gender Balance Working Group to uncover and address this phenomenon.

The first project [ERCAREER (Vinkenburg PI, 2012-2014)] is about unconventional careers and career breaks, and studies the gendered nature of career paths of ERC applicants. Findings show that “conventional careers” in science are inextricably tied to normative beliefs about the ideal academic, mobility, independence, and excellence. Allowing unconventional careers to address the issue results in ironic effects and dilemmas for both applicants and reviewers, because underlying norms remain unchallenged.  

The second project [GENDERC (Schiffbaenker Joanneum Research PI, Vinkenburg team member) – work in progress] focuses on the panel review process of the ERC and will shed some light on the connection of panel selection and composition, application and success rates of men and women, stereotypes and biases.

The conference aims to show how these projects enhance our understanding of research careers, gender equality and funding success in science.

Dr Pippa Wells, Project Leader at ATLAS and Chairperson of the Associates and Fellows Committee, will introduce the topic of (un)conventional career paths by giving some insight into CERN’s Post-Career-Break Fellowship Programme, a gender neutral initiative to allow scientists and engineers to return to science or engineering after a break.

Claartje Vinkenburg, PhD, is affiliated with VU University Amsterdam as an associate professor of organisational behaviour and works as an independent consultant and researcher. Her research, partly funded by the European Research Council, deals with gender and ethnic diversity in professional and academic careers. She critically explores the impact of implicit bias, normative beliefs and discursive practices on career systems, patterns and outcomes to promote diversity and inclusion. Claartje teaches Diversity in Organisations (MSc HRM) and supervises PhD candidates. She has written various book chapters and has published in Academy of Management Review, Journal of Social Issues, and Leadership Quarterly.