Response to the proposal for the 7th Frame Programme

2005-06-30 08:55

To the European Commission, members of the European Parliament, Nordic representatives, and EU research ministers.

Response to the European Commission’s proposal for the 7th Framework Programme – Building the Europe of Knowledge, COM (2005) 119 The European Commission has presented its proposal for the 7th Framework Programme.

Before the proposal is dealt with by the European Parliament and the European Council, the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, the Coordination for Women’s Studies and Gender Research in Denmark and the Nordic Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Research (NIKK), would like to give the following comments concerning gender research and equality:

1. Cooperation

We welcome the Commission’s recognition of gender aspects in the dissemination of research results to the public (page 13). We expect that this will entail a special emphasis on the dissemination of research which concerns equality problems of significance for European social cohesion.

2. Themes – Health

We welcome the Commission’s recognition of women’s particular situation in clinical research and practice (page 18). This will clear the way for the developing research field of Medical Gender Research which problemises gender, body and the significance of society’s power relations.

3. Themes – Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities

We welcome the Commission’s mention of gender as a dimension under the activity field “Major trends in society and their implications” (page 32). Hence, we expect that special calls with gender as the main theme will be issued within the scope for this activity. Moreover, our opinion is that gender must be a crosscutting dimension for all activities in the field of Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities. In order to fulfill the goal of the Lisbon process to augment European growth and social cohesion, issues such as how women and men can better combine work and family life must be addressed and problematised. The aim of the Lisbon process requires that the number of women in labour is increased throughout Europe. To reach this goal, a number of problems of equality must be solved. European gender research has long pursued these issues, but more comparative studies must be made so that we can learn from different countries’ ways of handling these problems.

4. Ideas

We welcome the establishment of a European research council, which will provide a further possibility for gender researchers to compete for support with other prominent researchers based on criteria of scientific excellence.The research council should work actively to integrate gender perspectives in research and development aids, and should provide adequate support to research with a gender perspective. Making gender visible in research promotes new knowledge and strengthens and enhances the quality of research. The self-understanding of the sciences is enriched through the questioning of fundamental norms of evaluation.In this connection we would like to add special emphasis to the EU report “Gender and Excellence in the Making” (Eur 21222). The report establishes that scientific excellence is not a neutral concept. Scientific culture is the cause of a process where research that is similar to previous research is supported, which unequivocally favours men. Hence, there is an obvious presence of gender bias when scientific excellence is to be practiced. The report proposes a number of actions to be taken in order to cope with the gender bias in scientific evaluations. Therefore, we recommend that the committee which will organize the European research council consider the proposed actions of this report.

5. Science in Society

We welcome the Commission’s intent to increase the budget for the area that aims to promote communication and cooperation with society. We especially value the fact that there is a clearer emphasis on gender research than previously in this connection (page 43). Gender research is a strong future field within all scientific areas and it enriches and develops all research. We expect special calls with a focus on how gender research may be supported and used within various practices to be issued. We also expect that the Commission will engage adequate competence in the form of gender researchers in order to be able to develop this area and assess applications. We recommend that the so-called Helsinki group engage gender researchers from different European countries. The Commission’s unit Women and Science has worked meritoriously to increase the share of women in EU supported research projects, research networks, expert committees and as application assessors.

We expect that this work will continue since the share of women is still considerably lower than the male share within most areas of science in Europe.

Anne-Marie Morhed, The Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research

Hilda Rømer Christensen, The Coordination for Women’s Studies and Gender Research in Denmark

Solveig Bergman, The Nordic Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Research (NIKK)

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