18 Feb 2016   |   News

Women’s share of ERC consolidator grants rises to 31%

A small step towards gender balance, but the geographical divide lives on, with French, German and UK institutions hosting 146 of 302 grant winners

Women had marginally better odds than men of winning in the latest European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant competition, with a success rate of 16 per cent, compared to 14.5 per cent for mem – although a higher proportion of applicants were male.

Women make up a higher share of the 302 new winners than in previous years, accounting for 31 per cent of grants awarded, an increase from 28 per cent in 2014 and 24 per cent in 2013.

“I’m glad to see that compared to previous years, there are more women amongst the consolidator grantees selected in a competition strictly based on scientific quality,” said Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC. “I hope that this trend continues."

Bourguignon wants the ERC to attract more female scientists. Since its foundation in 2007 as the first pan-European research agency for basic research, only around 20 per cent of ERC grants have gone to women.

Consolidator grants are awarded to scientists with between seven and 12 years’ experience after completing a PhD. Up to a maximum of €2 million per grant is provided for up to five years. The ERC estimates the grant winners will employ more than 2,100 post-docs, PhD students and other staff.

West Europe with most winners

Most of the grants went to scientists in western Europe, with German scientists taking 48, British 32, French 30 and Italians 30. Amongst the grantees, there are also some 30 researchers from outside Europe, mainly from the US, India and Canada.

All grantees will conduct their research in universities or public research labs based in the EU or associated countries.

While UK nationals won a total of 32 grants, its research institutions will be host to more than double that number of grantees, with 67 of the new award winners deciding to carry out their research in the UK. Although German nationals won 48 grants, only 45 grantees elected to carry out their research in Germany. France meanwhile will host 31 of the new grant winners, the Netherlands 26, with the remainder hosted in 18 other European countries.

To date, the ERC has funded nearly 6,000 researchers at various stages of their careers.

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