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Gender equality is still not the norm in all areas and stages of life. Stereotypes, hidden meanings, gender insensitivity and direct discrimination are present in everyday social situations, with science and research being no exception. Human talent and motivation are lost if educated and capable women are under-represented in some areas, do not continue their studies as they could, or leave their scientific career at an advanced stage. The situation of women in science and research is currently described as "they can enter but cannot participate fully".
The career progression of women scientists is slow. Women achieve the highest career positions less often than men. Particularly alarming is the situation in the engineering and technology sectors, where both female and female scientists are still a minority. Research shows that many outstanding women who could make a significant impact in the scientific community, academia or industry are not even seeking career growth. Others drop out of career advancement at later stages, often for raising children. This process is referred to as perforated piping. The loss of educated and experienced women is a loss for society as a whole.
Institute of Social and Cultural Studes of Matej Bel University
97401 Banská Bystrica
The ERAC Standing Advisory Group on Gender in Research and Innovation was set up in 2017 when it was transformed from the Helsinki Group, which was set up in 1999. The ERAC SWG GRI is made up of representatives of the EU Member States and Associated States. The group advises the Council of the EU and the European Commission on gender equality policies, strategies and initiatives in research and innovation (R&I).
The members of the SWG GRI shall be made up of representatives of all Member States and countries associated to the Framework Program from among the responsible ministers, active scientists or gender experts.
The former Helsinki Group on Gender in Research and Innovation (HG) was an advisory body set up by the European Commission. In response to the 1999 Council Resolutions, it created a political forum to discuss issues related to "women and science". SWG GRI, as the successor to the Helsinki Group, continues the tasks and activities of the Helsinki Group.
The HG represented 32 countries with different approaches to the issue of gender equality. In the beginning, the members of the HG prepared the so-called national reports. A subset of important statistical correspondents in each EU Member and Associated Country provided the basis for She Figures publications, which are still the most important source of statistics on gender equality in science and innovation in the EU. HG participated in the preparation of important studies and reports and supported networking activities that led to the creation of the European Platform for Women and Science (EWPS).
ERAC SWG GRI continues the activities defined by the former Helsinki Group on Gender in Research and Innovation. The Slovak representation lags far behind in the process of implementing gender strategies in science, research and innovation. The reason is insufficient information, underestimation of the issue by decision-makers, poor awareness of the issue, as well as a negative political campaign against gender equality. The Slovak Republic - unlike all other EU countries - has no gender equality strategies in science, research and innovation.