Family Friendly Research to boost Science Careers of Women

The balance between professional and personal life plays a key role for successful careers of European researchers, especially for women scientists. As far as employment and reconciliation of work and life are concerned, female employment rates remain low especially in Southern Europe and East Europe and in general even more for women with low education. Antidiscrimination laws have been adopted, but gender gaps are still large. Lack of child care services and care facilities for the elderly combined with rigid work arrangements make it hard to reconcile work and family life.

The secret to making family life compatible with an academic career

EuroScientist celebrates International Women’s Day 2017 by covering a study giving food for thought on the issue of work/life balance for career scientists. Germany has traditionally looked down on mothers pursuing their career in the immediate few years after their children were born. However, a new survey by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) shows that there are several key factors influencing researchers to stay in academia. These include the ability to self-determine their working hours, a flexible workplace and the existence of a long-term professional perspective. Clearly, respondents to the survey from both genders appear to strive for a better work/life balance. But it may take another generation for old habits to die.

Radical funding overhaul needed to empower researchers

Funding research effectively is a demanding exercise. Young scientists gathered in Bratislava in July 2016 published a wish list for a definite overhaul of the funding system. The key to the change is to empower researchers. The proposals will be annexed to the conclusions of the EU Competitiveness Council of research and innovation ministers and tabled for adoption at the Competitiveness Council on 29 November 2016 in Brussels.

Does mobility boost early scientific careers?

Young scientists are expected to change country and jobs every few years on average to get a chance to progress their academic career. Mobility in science stems from a long tradition. It is favoured for bringing very enriching experiences. But post docs and their scientific work do not always benefit from mobility. Here, EuroScientist looks into how being on the move every few years affects the life of researchers and looks at ways of enhancing work/life balance.

Does the European Researchers Charter deserve its birthday cake?

As it nears its tenth anniversary, the European Charter for Researcher has failed to be fully implemented across Europe. This disappointing state of affairs shows that there are still many ways in which the status of researchers in Europe can be improved. Yet, future improvements hinge on such documents having more binding power in the future.

Inadequate childcare policies affect scientists’ careers

The inadequacy of childcare policies across Europe, means that scientists who do not wish to be away from their lab for too long are struggling to balance their life as parents and as researchers. There are still some significant decisions concerning harmonisation of such childcare provision to be made in Europe, while further policy support would be welcome.

Career transition: chance favours the prepared mind

As Louis Pasteur once said, “chance only favours the prepared mind”. This applies to the field of scientific discovery as well as to career management. Alas, young scientists very often lack the methods to steer their own career. Our experience of helping PhDs find jobs outside academia shows that once young scientists realise that these methods are quite simple to learn, their quest for a dream job becomes easier.