SFI to raise issues of women in research at global conference

23 May 2016

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has revealed it is to debate global approaches to the equality and status of women in research with funding leaders from across the world at the Global Research Council (GRC) 2016 Annual Meeting in New Delhi, India.

SFI will be one of 60 national research councils from across the world attending the event, which will be jointly hosted by the Indian Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Research Councils UK (RCUK), and takes place on 25-27 May.

Now in its fifth year of hosting meetings of the heads of major research councils, the GRC is a united effort to promote international research collaboration and impact by providing a unique global forum for research funding agencies around the world to share best practice and data, and discuss research funding policy issues.

The organisation says that its overall long-term plan is to foster multilateral research and collaboration across continents to benefit both developing and developed nations, with this year’s councils encouraged to endorse plans for a statement on principles of ensuring equal status among researchers, regardless of gender.

Speaking ahead of its planned discussion on the topic, director-general of the SFI, Prof Mark Ferguson, said that his organisation has attempted to bridge any potential gender gaps in Irish research with the options of career breaks, the introduction of maternity allowance on all awards and a quota on the number of candidates higher education institutes can propose for the SFI Starting Investigator Awards.

Speaking at Inspirefest

“While we are achieving some success, I really look forward to engagement on this topic at the Global Research Council and anticipate more progress as a result,” he said.

Further to this message, Prof Philip Nelson, Chair of RCUK, said: “Cooperation and collaboration can enhance the quality of research, avoid unnecessary duplication, provide economies of scale, and address issues that can only be solved by working together.

“Adopting the statement and action plan as a global community is the foundation of greater alignment and capacity building across research funding agencies worldwide and demonstrates the value of the GRC in providing a forum for sharing best practice.”

Following his participation in the GRC later this month, Ferguson has also been announced as one of the panellists at this year’s Inspirefest, where his findings from this event are likely to be a part of his thoughts on greater inclusivity in science and technology.

Temple at New Delhi image via Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic