Mosaikabbildung der TeilnehmerInnen der virtuellen Veranstaltung
A networking first via Zoom: 140 female researchers from all over Austria exchanged experiences first in a plenary and then in smaller breakout sessions.

Over the last two years, 85 female researchers have been awarded funding as part of the FWF’s Elise Richter and Hertha Firnberg career development programmes. They and many other successful female researchers accepted the FWF’s invitation to get together and discuss women’s careers in cutting-edge research.

“Fewer committees, less teaching, more appearances”, recommended sociologist and gender equality researcher Jutta Allmendinger. “A man immediately says yes to every interview even before he knows what it’s about. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more hesitant”, said journalist Corinna Milborn, speaking from her experience in the media. “Don’t lose sight of your goals and don’t let anyone interrupt you”, advised computer scientist Silvia Miksch of the Vienna University of Technology, encouraging her numerous female colleagues from all over Austria.

Last week’s FWF networking event “Women in Cutting-Edge Research—Recognition and Networking” revolved around the successes, the status quo, and the future of promoting female careers in cutting-edge research. Besides Jutta Allmendinger, Corinna Milborn, and Silvia Miksch, other prominent female researchers such as Karin Harrasser (University of Art and Design Linz), Sylvia Knapp (Medical University of Vienna), Stefanie Widder (University of Vienna), and Barbara Zimmermann (FWF) also shared their expertise and experiences. The main topics of discussion were the obstacles and challenges to gender equality and diversity in cutting-edge research. The general opinion of the virtual discussions was that a lot has been accomplished, but the goal of gender equality on all levels is far from being achieved.

Recognition of Firnberg and Richter grant recipients

The event began with Barbara Weitgruber, Director General in the BMBWF, and Gregor Weihs, interim FWF President, introducing all 85 grant recipients of the Hertha Firnberg and Elise Richter programmes from the last two years and congratulating them on the fellowship. An overview of all the outstanding female researchers can be found here (pdf, 81KB) (in German).

New ESPRIT programme: Providing women with long-term career prospects

The percentage of women in the FWF’s junior researcher promotion programmes is now nearly the same as that of men, but in terms of the overall portfolio, there are still more submissions from men than from women. In general, the success rates between men and woman are the same in most programmes, only the predominance of men in the natural sciences and engineering leads to a somewhat higher acceptance rate for men in the overall view. In terms of postdoc funding, women have long ago caught up with men; through the new ESPRIT programme, the FWF hopes to further expand the potential of these excellent female researchers and offer them the best possible conditions in cutting-edge research. “With the new ESPRIT funding programme, we want to help retain more female researchers at Austrian research institutes than before”, said Gregor Weihs.

Federal Minister of Science Faßmann: Developing the full potential of both sexes

Speaking with reference to the networking event, Federal Minister of Science Heinz Faßmann emphasised the existing potential of excellent female and male researchers. “Our declared aim is to establish a new understanding of work, one which in future will take life-phase related circumstances, such as parental leave, into greater consideration”, explained Faßmann. “For only when we manage to realise the full potential of both female and male researchers can we hope to make an effective contribution to further developing Austria as a centre of research, firmly establishing it at the international forefront, and continuing to improve the quality of research. The FWF’s funding programmes are making a huge difference here”, said the Federal Minister of Science with confidence.

Networking and mentoring

In hosting the event, the FWF hopes to make a lasting contribution to the networking of outstanding female researchers in Austria. The annual awards ceremony and the networking are part of a large number of activities and measures designed to best promote and increase the visibility of women in cutting-edge research. This includes, for example, gender-appropriate guidelines, taking equal opportunities into account in the decision-making process, or promoting the transfer of knowledge and expertise through mentoring. The next awards ceremony for women as part of the future ESPRIT programme is planned for spring 2022.

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