The gender challenge in research funding - assessing the European national scenes. ESTONIA Dr.biol. Maija Bundule - September 2008

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1 Policy context The gender challenge in research funding - assessing the European national scenes ESTONIA Dr.biol. Maija Bundule - September 2008 Joining the European Union Estonia fully adopted the European Union acquis under the research chapter. The European Charter for ers and The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of ers (hereafter the Charter and Code) that are recommended to all Member States has not been yet fully implemented as regards gender equality. The Charter and Code was translated into Estonian and distributed among researchers for discussion in all public universities, the Estonian Academy of and the Estonian Union of Scientists. The experts from the public universities of Estonia have highly acclaimed both documents as the documents for advancement of the role of researchers in the European Area in the light of Lisbon goals. In 2005 the Rectors Conference approved the main principles of the Charter and Code. It should be pointed out that many issues of the Charter and Code, such as the quality of research, democratic R&D management structure and funding system, free and equal competition, are already followed in Estonian R&D system. The gender equality in Estonia is constitutional right. The Gender Equality Act approved in 2004 aims to ensure equal treatment and to promote the gender equality of men and women as a fundamental human right and for the public good in all areas of social life. This Act provides for the prohibition of discrimination based on sex in the private and public sectors; the obligation of state and local government agencies, educational and research institutions and employers to promote the gender equality of men and women, and for the right to claim compensation for damage. State and local government agencies are required to promote gender equality systematically and purposefully. Their duty is to change the conditions and circumstances, which hinder the achievement of gender equality. According to the Act, educational and research institutions must ensure the equal treatment of men and women. The curricula, the study material used and the research conducted must facilitate the removal of the unequal treatment of men and women, and promote equality. Employers are expected to collect statistical data concerning employment which are based on gender and which will allow, if necessary, the relevant institutions to monitor and assess whether the principle of equal treatment is complied with in employment relationships. Although the Gender Equality Act was adopted in 2004, there has been very little progress in the besides the appointment of Gender Equality Commissioner. This inactivity is due to the general lack of gender awareness, and a low political and organisational willingness to tackle gender inequalities. In order to implement the Act the Estonian Government has adopted the National Gender Equality Plan for The plan covers areas including violence against women, trafficking of women, protection and assistance for victims, working life, education and the economic situation of women, as well as institutional cooperation in this. In 2007 The Estonian and Development and Innovation Strategy for Knowledge based Estonia was adopted by Estonian Parliament. This is the main policy document for R&D in Estonia. However it practically nothing says about gender equality problems in R&D sector only generally promises to ensure equal conditions for male and female scientist s career paths. A search for the words gender or equality gives no results. A search for the keyword woman yielded two hits: 1

2 1. The proportion of women researchers is 43,1%, which in the European Union is bigger only in Latvia, Lithuania and Portugal; 2. Women and men will be ensured equal opportunities in their research careers. The statement on ensuring equal opportunities is actually an empty one since no quantitative steps are foreseen in this document. Thus, in this document there are no serious efforts planned regarding gender equality issues. Organization of Estonian and Development system (Institutional framework) In the of research and development, the main advisory body to the Government is the Estonian and Development Council. The Estonian Academy of, as a nongovernmental body, is a unifying organization on scientific competence. The Estonian Science Foundation, Enterprise Estonia and Scientific Competence Council are involved in the financing of RTD. The and Development Council is a strategy advisory body for the Government in the entire of RTDI. and Development Council is chaired by the Prime Minister. According to the Organization of and Development Act, the research and Development Council has 12 members and its composition (4 ministers, 4 representatives from academia and 4 representatives from business sector) is confirmed by the Government for a period up to three years. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication has a central role in organizing technological development and innovation on a state level, being responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and surveillance of the policies for technological development and innovation. The Ministry of Economy and Communication is advised by Innovation Policy Committee. The task of Agency Enterprise Estonia is to support technological development projects within enterprises and market-oriented research and development projects in research institutions. The Ministry of Education and is responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and surveillance of research and education policy. Institutions advising Ministry of Education in research and educational issues include the Policy Committee, the Scientific Competence Council and Estonian Academy of. The main task of the Estonian Science Foundation, which various functions are under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and, is to support research projects by means of the allocation of research grants. Policy Committee includes experts from academic sector, industry and public sector and is the main Ministry s advisory body for policy development. Scientific Competence Council provide to the Ministry expert advice for distributing targeted funding as well as support for research infrastructures and for evaluation of institutions. The Council s mission is: - developing the principles and strategy for targeted funding of RTD institutions; - making proposals concerning the opening, amendment and termination of research projects - assessing the effectiveness of the targeted funding of RTD institutions and the conformity of the research results with international standards; - making proposals for covering of infrastructure expenses of RTD institutions; - making recommendations regarding funding of research related to PhD study and post-docs; - making proposals for approval of the results of international evaluation of R&D institutions; - based on the results of evaluations making proposals for reorganization of state R&D institutions or termination of their activities. Scientific Competence Council consists of nine recognized scientists covering nine disciplines. Members of Scientific Competence Council are nominated by councils of public 2

3 universities and Estonian Academy of. The membership for three years is approved by Government following the proposal of the Minister of Education and. Scientific Competence Council is supported administratively by the Department of the Ministry of Education and and by nine Expert boards lead by members of the Council. Expert boards organize the evaluation of project proposals. Members of the Expert boards (6-8 experts per board and in total 72) are internationally recognized Estonian scientists in their respective research and nominated by the Council for three year term. The Ministry of Education and is assisted in carrying out its RTD management functions by the Archimedes Foundation which organizes evaluations of Estonian higher education and research, acts as the national contact point for the EU Framework programs, coordinates the creation of Estonia s research and development information system, and implements specific projects, with aim of rising Estonia s capacity for innovation. The Foundation also coordinates exchange programs for young researchers and students (Marie Curie grants, Erasmus, etc.). The system of Estonian RTD institutions consists of 6 public and 6 private Universities, one public and 9 state research institutes and one research institute of Estonian Academy of. The legal framework of the Estonian R&D system The main principles of Estonian R&D activities are specified in and Development Organisation Act (1997), which provides the bases for R&D organisation and ensures legal means for preservation and further development of scientific and technological work an important part of Estonian economy and culture. In the law the diversity of RTD institutions is fixed as well as diversity of funding instruments. The multiplicity of decisions making bodies also is allowed according to the law. Regular international evaluation of RTD institutions by research is foreseen in the law. The R&D additionally is regulated by: - Act on Universities; - Act on National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics; - Act on Estonian Academy of. The following Regulations adopted by the Minister of Education and determines the conditions for funding grants and projects from state budget: - Conditions and Procedure for Base-line Funding of and Development Institutions; - Conditions and Procedure for Targeted Financing of and Development Institutions. Government has adopted the Regulations Conditions and Procedure for Evaluation of and Development Activities establishing the project application evaluation procedure. All acts and regulations related to the of research are accessible through the electronic version of State Gazette, an their overview is also given on the web site of the Ministry of Education and. Main principles of RTD funding Fig.1 shows main Estonian RTD funding and funds receiving institutions, types of funds and main RTDI funds flows. The main principles of Estonian RTD funding are following. Each year Ministry of Education and advised by Policy Committee prepares the budget proposal for the Government. Government advised by Estonian R&D Council prepares the state budget. After Parliaments approval of the state budget Ministry of Education and according to approved proposal allocates funds for Estonian Science Foundation and for R&D institutions according to the Scientific Competence Council recommendations. 3

4 Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for RTDI funding uses national programs. Funding agency Enterprise Estonia implements these programs according to the instructions of the Ministry, and distributes the funding to the users. Evolution of RTDI funding system Up to 1991 planned state budget funding of RTDI institutions was practiced. In 1991 funding of individual projects based on peer-review procedures was introduced by Estonian Science Foundation. The proportion of grant funding in overall Estonian RTDI funding was increased up to 1997 using step-by-step approach. In 1998 targeted funding and institutional funding for maintenance of institutional infrastructures was introduced according to new Law on RTD Organization. According to the new law the preparation of the plan of RTD budget allocations after 1998 was carried out using new management scheme: according to the advice of the Competence Council. Thus after 1998 all RTD funding became entirely competitive. Currently the instruments of the Estonian R&D funding system are: Targeted financing; Baseline funding; grant funding; National research and development programs; Funding of research and development infrastructures. Targeted financing is decided and allocated by the Minister of Education and following the recommendation of the Scientific Competence Council. The aim of targeted RTD funding is to ensure a competitive basic structure for scientific research and the continuity of research which is necessary for Estonia. Financial means are also planned in this scheme for developing new research areas as well as for obtaining of informational sources necessary for research. Special funds for young researchers (graduate training, postdoctoral fellowships) are foreseen in RTD targeted funding. Targeted funding research grants are allocated to the researcher driven peer-reviewed projects up to 6 years duration. Main criterions of evaluation are: quality of performers of proposal and of environment, critical mass of applying unit. Open to all s and all research groups - both basic and applied research is funded. Evaluated and registered research institutions may apply. The Scientific Competence Council organizes the peer-reviewing of submitted applications and advises the Minister on opening funding for new research themes and the continuation of funding for previously-approved ones. All of the research topics that have been approved for targeted financing are assessed each year. 34 new research topics with a total budget of 58,54 million kroons were approved for targeted financing in The targeted financing of 180 research topics is continued with 241,2 million kroons. Baseline funding is a new instrument, introduced in The proportion of baseline funding in overall public financing will increase gradually. The purpose is financing R&D institutions on the basis of research quality in order to support the development and initiative research of R&D institutions. Also, it is aimed for co-financing of cooperation projects, international and local, between academia and industry. There are not any specific guidelines for spending, thus the institutions are responsible. The Estonian Science Foundation (ETF) awards research grants to individuals and research teams on a competitive basis. The purpose is primarily to support high-level initiative research, new ideas and studies. Project applications are evaluated by external reviewers, ESRs 4

5 (Evaluation Summary Report) and ranking lists are prepared by the expert commissions and final financing lists are approved by the ETF Council. In the year 2007 ETF financed 630 research projects new and 486 continuing. The overall sum of granting in 2007 was 101,6 million kroons. Since 2005 Estonian Science Foundation is also awarding post-doctoral grants to the researchers who obtained their PhD degree not earlier then 5 years prior the deadline. In 2007, the financing of post-doctoral grants was 9,75 million kroons. National research and development programs are launched and funds allocated by the ministry responsible for the implementation of the program. As of 2007, Estonia has four national R&D programmes: "The Estonian Language and National Memory"; "Collections of Humanities and "; "Language technology support for the Estonian language"; "Agricultural applied research and development activities ". Through Enterprise Estonia and its sub-units, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication finances R&D programs that involve product development, co-operation with enterprises and entrepreneurs, and technology programs for priority areas. Enterprise Estonia provides support for new companies as well as assistance to R&D activities of already active companies, NGOs and R&D institutions. Funding for basic research Basic research commonly is recognized as theoretical or experimental research with the aim of gaining new knowledge about the basic principles of phenomena and events, without the objective of immediate application of such knowledge. However in Estonian case this research includes pure fundamental research as well as strategic and oriented research. Basic research in Estonia is funded by targeted funding of RTD institutions on the base of peer-reviewed research projects. Also the peer-reviewed research grants to individual researchers on competitive basis are foreseen according to the scheme. Main RTD funding institutions are Ministry of Education and and Estonian Science Foundation. Targeted funding scheme is applied for funding of national RTD programs which foreseen for the purposeful and systematic development of key research areas. National RTD programs are devoted for the solution of the problems that are relevant for the development of the economy and society. For example, the objective of the Program for Centers of Excellence in is to support of high-level RTD and post-graduate studies, promotion of cooperation between research groups, generation of innovations and creation of better preconditions in international RTD cooperation. The Program is financed by the Ministry of Education and trough the state budget (targeted RTD funding) and EU Structural Funds. Program for the development of the RTD infrastructure was prepared as strategic base for updating of the infrastructure supporting academic higher education, research and innovation. Pilot phase of the Program was implemented in For the period is foreseen next phase of the Program with much higher funding including funding from EU Structural Funds. 5

6 Ministry of Education and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Other Ministries Science Competence Council Estonian Science Foundation ENTERPRISE ESTONIA Institutional Targeted Financing* Financing of Infrastructures** Financing & product development projects Technology programs in priority areas National R&D Programmes Universities Institutes Institutes Labs of Private Business Sector State Bodies Public Institutions Private Organizations 6 Fig.1. RTDI funding system in Estonia 6

7 and development grants The purpose of research and development grants is primarily to support highlevel initiative research, new ideas and studies. and development grants are financed by Estonian Science Foundation from the Ministry s of Education and RTD budget. Estonian Science Foundation: - is a private body fulfilling public functions; - uses state budget appropriations to award peer-reviewed research grants to individuals and research groups an a competitive basis. The mission of the ETF is: - to foster the development of basic and applied research in principal areas of scientific strength and in s of special importance to Estonian economy and social sphere; - to support most qualified and successive researchers and research groups; - to involve post-graduate and doctoral students as well as undergraduate students into active research; - to support international co-operation and mobility of researchers. The grant expertise of the ETF is supplemented by several hundred top-level Estonian and foreign experts. The highest decision-making body of the ETF is a seven-member Council. The Council consists of a Chair, the Heads of the four Expert Commissions, a representative of the Estonian Ministry of Education and and an independent representative of the Estonian scientific community. Four eminent scientists elected by the previous Council for a term of three years as Heads of the Expert Commissions represent environment and biosciences, culture and social sciences, health, physical sciences and engineering. The Council members elect a chair from amongst the Heads of the Expert Commissions for a term of 3 years. The Chair is empowered to represent the ETF in every action and every level. The ETF s everyday activities are managed by a 2-member Board, which organizes the work of the ETF office and is responsible for implementing the Council s decisions. grant awarding procedures by Estonian Science Foundation The applicants The applicant must be a holder of the doctoral degree of Estonia or an equivalent academic degree (awarded by the deadline of submission of the grant application, at the latest) and the grant holder must have published at least three high level publications within the last five years ( ). As a regular practice of equal treatment, for female applicants for a researcher s position or funding, the period of maternity leave is taken into account in the process of evaluation and selection. If the applicant for a grant has been on the parental leave or in the compulsory military service within the last five years, the deadline of the publication requirement shall be extended by the time stayed on the parental leave or compulsory military service. No limits on age nor type of organization where applicant is working, however only organizations registered in Estonia are considered. 7

8 The evaluation of the grant applications The applications for a grant shall be reviewed by experts and a general evaluation concerning the applications shall be rendered by the expert commissions of the ETF. In addition to aforementioned permanent expert commissions, the Council may also form ad hoc expert commissions to make the expert assessment more efficient. Each application for a new grant shall be given for evaluation to at least two independent reviewers with a doctoral degree or an equivalent academic degree (incl. preferably to at least one expert from a foreign country), who comply with the terms and conditions established for an applicant of a grant. The reviewers and experts undertake to comply with the Rules of Procedure of Conflict of Interests approved by the Council of the ETF. Both applications and reviews are confidential. Reviewers are not allowed to disclose information contained in applications or use it for the benefit of themselves or any other person or to the detriment of any person. The expert commission shall compile a ranking list of applications and submit it to the Council for a resolution. The Council shall make a resolution to finance/refuse to finance a project on the basis of the ranking lists and recommendations prepared by the expert commissions. The resolution of the Council shall be final. There are no specific measures for promoting women in research funding. Applicants can see the evaluation but not the names of evaluators. The criteria and guidelines of evaluation is posted on ETF home page available to everyone. List of awards, list of expert commission members are posted publicly on web-page and ETF. Also the guidelines for evaluation of proposals are on web-page and sent always separately to evaluators. Evaluation is based purely on scientific relevance and level of their work, team, and cooperation. As to the data on success rates of project applications these data are publicly available but these data are not available disaggregated by gender (can be obtained at request). The applicant receives a copy of all peer review comments or a summary of the reasons for rejection of the proposal. Public research grant applicants and beneficiaries, by grant type and gender grants in 1993 by 84 8 (9,5%) 47 6 (12%) and (22,5%) Geography Engineering 74 7 (9,5%) (37,7%) 8

9 Agriculture 38 3 (7,9%) (3,0%) Humanities (4,0%) All projects (20,1%) grants in 1994 by (9,6%) 99 9 (9,1%) (16,4%) 60 9 (15%) and (24,2%) (25,2%) Geography Engineering (9,3%) (11,1%) (39,1%) (37,4%) Agriculture (19,5%) (15,4%) (30,0%) (24,7%) Humanities (43,3%) (44,4%) All projects (24,3%) (23,5%) grants in 1995 by (8,1%) (9,6%) (18,5%) (19,5%) and (25,1%) (25%) Geography Engineering (9,0%) (12,3%) (45,9%) (43,9%) Agriculture (21,3%) (20%) (30,1%) (32,4%) Humanities (42,6%) (43,1%) All projects (25,9%) (26,8%) 9

10 grants in 1996 by (10,9%) (9,2%) (19,6%) (19,7%) and (21,2%) (19,6%) Geography Engineering (8,6%) (8,4%) (43,1%) (39,1%) Agriculture (23,8%) (22,2%) (30,9%) (31,6%) Humanities (43,4%) (41,9%) All projects (26,2%) (24,4%) grants in 1997 by (15,8%) (13,2%) (19%) (18,9%) and (23,1%) (22,9%) Geography Engineering (11,1%) (11%) (38,4%) (37,1%) Agriculture (24,5%) (25,9%) (37,8%) (34%) Humanities (44,8%) (46%) All projects (28%) (26,8%) grants in 1998 by (13,1%) (15,8%) (17%) (18,7%) and (23,7%) (25%) 10

11 Geography Engineering (12,7%) (12,6%) (37,6%) (34,2%) Agriculture (28,7%) (29,3%) (40,5%) (40,8%) Humanities (40,4%) (40,5%) All projects (27,2%) (27,1%) grants in 1999 by (13,6%) (11,3%) (17,4%) (17,5%) and (23,3%) (23,2%) Geography Engineering (17%) (15,2%) (37,9%) (35,7%) Agriculture (30%) (29,6%) (39,1%) (40,4%) Humanities (37,2%) (36,2%) All projects (27,7%) (26,4%) grants in 2000 by (14,4%) (14,1%) (17,4%) (17,1%) and (24,8%) (21,5%) Geography Engineering (14,5%) (15,5%) (39,9%) (40,6%) Agriculture (28,3%) (28%) (43,2%) (38,4%) Humanities (35%) (34,2%) All projects (27,9%) (26,5%) 11

12 Environm ent and Biosciences Physical and Engineering Ongoing grants/ lead by women 83/26 (31,3%) 140/15 (10,7%) grants in 2007 of applicants/ applications by women approved grants/awards to women Success rate overall/for 110/48 55/24 43,6%/50% 100/16 62/8 62%/50% Health 49/18 44/21 24/12 54%/57,1% (36,7%) Culture and Society 83/32 (38,6%) 74/31 40/14 54,1%/45,5 % All projects 355/91 328/ /58 55,2%/50% Targeted funding As mentioned already above the proportion of women researchers in Estonia is 43,1%. However, the last report of the Scientific Competence Council on targeted funding projects ( ) shows that there is a relatively equal number of women and men as members of the projects, at the same time the project leaders are mainly men (~79%). This tendency is continuing as among 34 new funded projects (started in 2007) there were 30 men and 4 women among project leaders. Representation of women on boards and public research bodies The proportion of women researchers in Estonia is 43,1%, but at the same time there is a dramatic under-representation of women on research boards of research bodies and research institutions. Institutions advising Ministry Education and in research issues include the Estonian Academy of and amongst its 57 full members (top level Estonian researchers) there is only 1 woman prof. Ene Ergma. Such situation is lasting already from Similar is the situation in another advisory institution the Scientific Competence Council with 9 men and no women on its Board (appointed for 3 years by the national government) and less than 10% women are on its 9 Expert boards. The Council of the Estonian Science Foundation, which supports research projects through the allocation of grants, contains 6 men and only one woman. In the work of ETF Expert Commissions 42 members experts representing different research areas are involved and currently 10 of those are women. In addition, the and Development Council, which advises the Government on strategic issues of research and development, consists of 12 members, currently all men. 12

13 Tab.1. Female research staff in universities and research centres by level, (1998) Level of Academic position Total Female % Female Full Professor ,9 Associate Professor ,7 Assistant Professor ,2 Assistant Teachers Teacher ,2 Assistant ,3 Associate researcher ,8 Assistant researcher ,6 Other ,5 TOTAL ,5 If to analyze the situation in Universities today we will find similar tendency of gender representation in academic positions as in 1998 (table above). For example, the statistical analysis of the faculty of and Geography at the University of Tartu (a research area that should theoretically contain equally men and women researchers) showed the clear under-representation of women in the top positions. In 2006, this Faculty had about 300 academic personnel (46% women), including 145 with PhD or equivalent (31%) women. However, all 34 Chairs of this Faculty were held by men. In conclusion In Estonia, like in the most of new Member States the gender balance among researchers and specialists is slightly different from that of the older member states. For instance, in Estonia in 2006 the share of women specialists was 68,4% which means that there are 216 female specialists per 100 male specialists. The feminization of the higher education enrolment has increased during the last 15 years (from 51% in 1993 and 59% in 1999 to 69% in 2007). Now first signs of this trend are noticeable in R&D personnel gender distribution of non-profit institutional sectors. From 1996, the share of female researchers has continuously increased, and their number is nearly equal to that of male researchers. In 2007, the share of female researchers in Estonia was 48% (in %). Positive trend is observable in traditionally masculine areas like engineering, manufacturing and construction where the share of women among graduates has grown from 14% in 1993 and 24% in 1999 to 39%, 38% and 34% in 2005, in 2006 and in 2007 respectively. Although among higher grade researchers the share of women drops during typical academic career the share of women among Grade C professors in Estonia in 2004 was close to 55%, the share of women among Grade B professors was ca 40% and among Grade A professors 18%. These numbers are higher than the EU average, and the trend is towards the growing of feminization rate 3. Few examples of the changes in gender balance in top level management of research. Among top executives of five out of six public universities one vice rector or rector is female. A higher level research management personnel in the Policy Department of Ministry of Education and is perfectly balanced (female to male ratio 50:50). The Estonian Ministry of Education and does not support setting gender quotas. Estonian government has not implemented any special measures to 13

14 raise the share of female researchers. Estonian R&D system is democratic and built up on values like quality of research, free competition based on independent evaluation, equal access and treatment. As a result, the success rate of female and male researchers in funding has been nearly equal for a decade. Therefore gender inequality is not perceived as serious problem in research (or society) in Estonia. The discrimination is not generally perceived, but separate cases of discrimination are recalled (older researchers). Attitudes in Estonia only 63% of women (45% of men) believe that women and men should have equal pay 48% of women (68% of men) say that they have no problem with the higher-paid jobs being dominated by men half the women (32% of the men) agree with the statement that men are better suited for management positions Source: Ministry of Affairs Survey (October 2006) Some positive tendencies and some winds of change can be observed during last years. Since 2006 Estonian Science Foundation when evaluating the eligibility of applicants for grants takes into account parental leave and military service. This is applicable also for targeted research funding grants since Bibliography Ministry of Affairs, Department of Gender Equality; Ministry of Education and ; Tartu University, Unit of Gender Studies; The Estonian Women s Studies and Resource Centre; Scientific Competency Council; Estonian Science Foundation; WIDREM working group Report Mapping the Maze: getting more women to the top in research, 2007 and development 2006, Statistics Estonia, Tallinn, 2008 Monthly Bulletin of Estoian Statistics, 5/2008 von Tunzelmann N, Iammarino S, Jagger N Miller L., Benchmarking policy measures for gender equality in science EUR 23314, European Commission, June 2008 Helsinki Group on Women and Science, Estonian National Report by Tiia Raudma, December 2000 Acknowledgments Meelis Sirendi, Estonian Science Foundation; personal communication Kadri Mager, Estonian Science Foundation; personal communication 14

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