The Swiss National Science Foundation introduces a quota for women

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The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is introducing a quota of women within its evaluation bodies with immediate effect. The proportion of women (and men) must now reach at least 40% within the Research Council and its presidency.

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Even today, half a century after the introduction of women’s suffrage establishing political equality between the sexes, women are still seriously under-represented in key scientific positions, notes the SNSF on Friday in a press release.

Less than a quarter of professorial chairs

While the proportion of women at doctoral level reaches nearly 45% and that female students are even in a slight majority, they only occupy 23% of professorial chairs in Swiss universities.

Inequalities in representation in leadership positions have consequences for society: the perspectives, needs and experiences of women are not sufficiently taken into account. Their contribution to the “generation of knowledge” is therefore less.

In the future, it is no longer conceivable that only a small minority of women take part in the discussions and decisions, said Matthias Egger, President of the Research Council, in the press release. “That is why we are now adopting stricter rules.”

Motor role

By introducing quotas, the SNSF has four objectives: to give more visibility to women in the bodies in charge of science policy; give greater weight to the interests of women and the plurality of perspectives; ensure a more balanced distribution of power; improve collaboration through greater diversity.

Equality between women and men has been enshrined in the Federal Constitution since 1981. As a national research funding organization, the SNSF is responsible for promoting gender equality within its legal mandate. The PRIMA grants, the portal dedicated to AcademiaNet female researchers, or the awarding of the Marie Heim-Vögtlin prize are all activities that contribute to the targeted encouragement of women, adds the SNSF.