The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) contributes to greater equal opportunities and diversity in top-level research with a wide range of activities and measures. These include specific funding offers for researchers as well as the implementation of an equality plan, the creation of a staff unit for equal opportunities in research funding, and consistent monitoring of the funding statistics. The goal is to ensure the equality of all genders and recognize the diversity among scientists and their research projects.

The FWF advocates the fair treatment of all researchers, makes sure there is a transparent and fair award of funds, and avoids discriminating against researchers on the basis of reasons unrelated to research, such as, for example, age, gender or background. With programs on career development and gender mainstreaming in every area, the FWF supports researchers along their diverse career paths.

For the FWF, equal opportunity is about supporting underrepresented groups in science and the equal treatment of genders. The FWF understands diversity to mean the many differentiating features that exist between researchers. With an intersectional understanding in mind, the FWF endeavors to take gender into consideration alongside the interaction of other diversity aspects, such as age, parenthood, disability, and background.

Toward greater equality in top-level research

The report by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) Von der Geschlechterpolitik zur diversitätsorientierten Gleichstellungspolitik im österreichischen Hochschul- und Forschungsraum (From gender policy to diversity-based equality policy in the Austrian university and research sector) contains an overview of the development of equality activities within the FWF. All of the latest principles and measures are summarized in the FWF Equality Plan.

Back in 2005, the FWF set up its own staff unit for the design and implementation of equality measures. Its goal is to:

  • significantly increase application rates of female researchers in line with their potential,
  • consider sex, gender and diversity aspects within the scope of research funding,
  • dismantle barriers to equal opportunities and participation.

An overview of gender-specific data on FWF funding

An important key indicator among the many factors mentioned above is the number of female researchers who submit project applications to the FWF. This number almost doubled between 2005 (19%) and 2021 (35%), but is subject to fluctuation and was 33.1% in 2022. The participation of women in the processes and committees of the FWF roughly corresponds to the national potential of female researchers (44% according to Unidata; see FWF Monitoring Equal Opportunities 2022). In the FWF, women are just as successful as their male colleagues – there are no notable differences in the approval rates between these genders.

Two evaluations of the FWF decision-making process for the years 1999–2008 and 2010–2019 show that male and female applicants are treated equally, and that age and disciplinary background have no (statistically significant) impact on the likelihood of approval.

For data on equal opportunities, see the infographic:

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