While more and more women are reaching senior levels in science and engineering, the aspiration of reaching gender equality is not yet fulfilled. Data from the She Figures 2012 report, a major EU publication that presents Europe-wide data on women in science from tertiary education through to the job market, show that there are nowhere near enough women at the top levels of science and research.
The problem is that female graduates often opt out of science after they have completed a PhD. This is the time when scientists typically take up post-doctoral research positions in academia, however it is also the time when many women begin to think of starting a family. The reality for many female scientists, it seems, is that they have had to choose between a career and a family.
Data shows that teachers can also have a tendency to encourage more boys than girls in the classroom, according to Professor Ines Sánchez de Madariaga, Director of the Women in Science Unit in the Spanish Department of Research, Development and Innovation.
In 2012, the European Commission launched ‘Science: It’s a girl thing!’, a campaign aimed at getting more girls interested in science, technology and engineering.
The Towards Women in Science and Technology (TWIST) project is another EU-funded project supporting women in science. TWIST – now in its final stages – ignited discussions on the issues surrounding women in science through a series of coordinated activities in seven European science centres.
Meanwhile, the EU's Institutional Transformation for Effecting Gender Equality in Research (INTEGER) project brings together a consortium of organisations committed to carrying out ‘sustainable transformational change’ to improve the career progression of female scientific researchers.
Relying just on numbers to assess gender equality is insufficient because companies and researchers are smart enough to game the system, a conference in Brussels, Belgium, has heard.
Graphene production could become a very attractive market for small- and medium-sized enterprises, according to Dr Amaia Zurutuza, scientific director of the graphene production company Graphenea, but it might take a while.
Nearly 100 years ago scientists developed a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB). Today, there are 10 million new cases worldwide and 1.6 million deaths from the disease every year. Increasingly, these cases are becoming difficult to treat as the bug that causes the disease can be resistant to antibiotics. However, several new TB vaccines are under development and there is growing optimism that a new vaccine will emerge, says Helen McShane, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, UK. This could save millions of lives, she said, but more work is needed to reassure the general public that vaccines are safe and effective.
Forests have a special magic for many of us. Steeped in folklore and fantasy, they are places for enchantments, mythical creatures and outlaws. But if they are to survive into the future, they may also need a helping hand from science.
Tuberculosis is the most common cause of death from an infectious disease.
Computer modelling will also help optimise management techniques.
Entrepreneur Nicklas Bergman on the European Innovation Council.