Graphene Week 2017 Hosts a Women in Graphene Session With a Focus on Innovation
Graphene Week, the longest running graphene and related materials conference, was this year held in the Greek city of Athens. Organised by the Graphene Flagship and its partner FORTH (Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas) Graphene Week 2017 saw delegates immerse themselves in the world of graphene and related materials. Graphene Week 2017 hosted a Women in Graphene session, part of the overarching Women in Graphene initiative set up by the Graphene Flagship to help support women and create a more gender diverse scientific community. The session contained four speakers talking about innovation and gender equality. These talks were the catalyst for a very interesting discussion about the barriers to career progression that women in science face and what can be done to level the field.
Starting the session with an overview of funding opportunities for women within Horizon 2020 saw Maria Koutrokoi (EC Programme Officer) and George Megas (Enterprise Europe Network) give a joint presentation. The importance of gender equality is evident in the funding approach for Horizon 2020 and this was outlined in these talks.
Emilie Klecha who is the Scientific and Policy Officer for the EC Flagships unit then gave a fascinating talk about women in science throughout the EU, which clearly showed the need for events such as these to bring the scientific community together to understand the depth of gender disparity and to take steps towards a solution. Klecha's talk included the outcome of EU research: 30% of the EU scientific community are women, those are paid 82% of their male counterparts for the same job and of all patent applications only 9% have a named female inventor.
Klecha talked not only about the problems but also about the initiatives that the EU is putting in place to try and counteract these issues, including funding projects which aim to show innovative strategies to correct any gender bias. The EC considers gender balance as a ranking factor when evaluating research proposals that receive the same score.
The session ended with a talk from the Graphene Flagship’s Press Coordinator and Communication Officer, Dr Sian Fogden, who is a founding member of Anionica. She spoke about the difficult road to nanotech commercialisation. Talking of the importance of role models, this talk aimed at telling the story of a woman’s experience across science and industry.
The next Women in Graphene Career Development day will be held at AstraZeneca, Gothenburg, Sweden on International Women’s Day (8 March 2018) and this promises to be a fantastic day. With travel grants available to support women in the fields of graphene and related materials, keep on eye on the women in graphene page for details.