Men and women in V4 higher education: towards a conversation on better science

The debate about gender and science can no longer pertain to “getting more women in” higher education. Rather, the question is how to produce better, reliable science to benefit us all.

Photo: University Leicester

Academia appears to be the arena where V4 women have advanced their struggle for equality rather well: their share is approaching - or has even surpassed - 40% in all countries of the region. Yet the picture is less rosy when it comes to the higher academic ranks.

Female MA graduates are about to outnumber men soon in the V4. 1 “The most fundamental debate about the future of gender equality is ahead of us,” the Hungarian scholar, Andrea Pető, said in an interview a few months ago.  2 Like in a range of other areas in public life,  3 women in the V4 remain underrepresented in the sphere of science and higher education. Admittedly, women have constituted at least 50% of Bachelor’s and Master’s graduates in all V4 countries since early 1990s, 4 and their representation at the PhD levels and in lower ranks of academia is becoming more equal. 5 However, the educational parity does not yet translate into job parity, especially in senior level positions in academia. Only 15% to 25% of all professors in the region are female. Similarly, women constitute only 12% to 35% of the managerial positions at universities, with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland having only one female rector each, countrywide.

Until the EU accession process started, gender equality in science was only the concern of a few activists and experts, without the institutional backing of governments or established large nonprofits. Joining the EU required national legislations to acquiesce to EU law, but also made the necessary funding and know-how on strategies for gender mainstreaming available. The first comprehensive overviews of gender and science in the V4 emerged in the early 2000s, and showed that V4 governments were rather hesitant  regarding EU gender policies, opposing what they considered “the national natural gender order.” 6 While most V4 countries have not seen much gender equality progress over the last several years, with some even witnessing a “gender backlash” recently, 7 women’s representation in the sciences has remained a “luxury concern” for large parts of the society and politicians until today. 8 Consequently, female scientists’ struggles stay largely a-political and somewhat “privatized”. Overcoming the discrepancies, if they are even acknowledged, is considered a matter of individual attitude and personal will, 9 but not an issue requiring legislative solutions, which would beneficially impact society as a whole.  10 As a result, V4 countries are missing out on their full potential.

Equality and quality

With our societies becoming increasingly knowledge-based, 11 producing reliable science that adequately reflects and responds to the needs of us all is now more important than ever.

Because of their life experiences and socialization, female and male researchers tend to consider different issues relevant, important or worth further examination and resource investment. Involving both sexes equally in research processes – from drafting, to management,  implementation and evaluation – thus not only has an impact on what is being researched, but also how, when, where and with which resources. 12

For example, we do not know yet why boys start to fall behind girls in primary school education, whether there are social barriers working to their disadvantage which translate also in the tertiary education sector or what effects a potential “boy crisis”  may have in the long-term. And the reason why we do not know is that only little serious research has been devoted to the topic so far, 13 putting the issue at risk of being captured by rather anti-feminist movements.

What is more, while involving only one sex in experimental research may lead to flawed results, in the medical sciences it can be lethal. For example, because evidence-based clinical standards for heart disease were created based on male pathophysiology, for a long time women remained mis- and under-diagnosed. 14

These examples show that striving for the equal involvement of men and women in the research processes enhances our capacity to produce more nuanced and precise science that has relevance to everyone’s individual needs. At the same time, involving different perspectives not only widens the set of possible research questions and topics, but also enlarges the scope of thinkable answers, opening space for innovations.  15 And if achieving gender equality in science is so beneficial for society, why is it taking us so long to achieve it?

Who can be a good scientist?

Arguments put against women striving to enter higher education in earlier centuries may seem almost entertaining from today’s perspective. Women were typically told they were “unapt” for science, with theories emerging about their reproductive and motherhood functions being endangered by intellectual activities. 16

And yet some 100 years later we can still trace a softer version of the “unapt women” stereotype in the public sphere. It is present in male scientists’ disproportionate representation in the media, to the detriment of their female colleagues  17 or  in their disproportionate reception of scientific awards. 18 It is also apparent when EU institutions dealing with gender and science, or higher education institutions and their managements, resort to gender stereotypes in their own promotional videos. 19

In a number of European countries research has shown that female scientists have to prove on average twice as much as their male counterparts to gain the same acknowledgements, be it symbolic or financial. 20 According to another study of recommendation letters for female scientists, the referees tended to emphasize their diligence or empathy, while in letters for male candidates they underscored their scientific excellence. 21 Other studies claim female researchers are disproportionately assigned to every day administrative work, leaving them less time to focus on their actual research.  22 So far, similar studies are lacking in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

“Male scientists have a wife, female scientists don’t”  23

Combining work and family life is a common obstacle along scientific career paths. The barrier is most often faced by women, who are still considered children’s primary caretakers.

Worldwide, the critical drop-out period for female scientists occurs between the successful completion of their PhD programs and the attainment of their first research or university positions. 24 Some accredit the high dropout rate to the competitive nature of certain scientific fields. Successful career development in the sciences is said to be bound by linear, uninterrupted job advancement, the researchers’ readiness to move abroad or work long hours at the office.  25 The demands are particularly high for emerging scientists, who must reconcile their potential parental obligations with the dedication expected from them in the early years of their careers. .

Meanwhile, science and academia, at first glance, should be the perfect field for easily combining work and familial duties, with scientific research generally unbound by a specific workplace or time constraints, except for cases of experimental or on-site research. So why aren’t options such as home offices, part-time employment, shared workplaces, flexible working hours or ad-hoc work time reduction, being made use of? 26 In V4, the offer of flexible working conditions in the sciences has been increasing with the ongoing transformation of the job market structure in response to changes research funding. However, with grant-funded projects replacing institutional (core) financing, the scientific job market has simply opened itself to short-term, part-time contracts, without offering variety in the overall working conditions. 27

While in theory, part-time contracts could offer the flexibility parents might appreciate, in praxis they prove particularly disadvantageous for this group. Typically, these kinds of contracts are connected with lower levels of financial stability, employee protection and career advancement opportunities. 28 Moreover, the temporary nature of research projects sometimes requires scientists to take up a series of such contracts, resulting in contract-chaining with less long-term perspective.  29 What is more, in the Czech Republic for example, young academics who have often involuntarily  30 taken up a series of part-time contracts  at the start of their career, have typically not contributed enough taxes to the system to make use of the full scope of social benefits, when later going on parental leave.  31 At the same time, with no unified national provisions for postponement of grant-funded projects, opting for parental leave in the middle or shortly before the start of certain projects may result in parents’ complete loss of a job offer, or even disqualify them from similar future positions. 32

Admittedly, the negative effects would apply equally to men and women that decide to take up the lead parenting role. However, as long as, “male scientists have wives, [and] female scientists don’t,” 33 the negative impacts of part-time employment in science will continue to be disproportionately born by women.

Towards cultural and institutional change

In the past five years, the European Commission and the Competitiveness Council have gradually adopted and pushed for so-called cultural and institutional change. 34 The approach aims to transform research and higher education institutions on the one hand, and to change the culture and values of the research environment on the other. 35 The goals: gender balance in research teams and  academic institutions’ decision making positions, and the adoption of a gender-sensitive approach to research and development.

As opposed to previous approaches focused on “fixing women,” the attention is now shifting to “fixing the system,” or the institutions and knowledge.  36 So the bulk of responsibility to enter “male dominated” fields is no longer on the women, but with the institutions, which are asked to alter their internal rules and procedures to enable such entry.

In an ideal case scenario, every institution should come up with its own set of specific measures to be adopted on the basis of a previous gender audit. The implementation of these measures should then be backed by sufficient financial and human resources and regularly evaluated. Institutional measures can require a re-design of working conditions or the rules and criteria for research assessment, funding, hiring and promotion. These include enhancing the transparency of recruitment processes by taking into account career breaks due to parental leave, by creating family-friendly environments that allow for work flexibility, and by establishing mechanisms to finance part-time employment of scientists on familial leave. Gender-sensitive measures could also include opening university kindergartens, or establishing specific units to oversee gender equality measures within institutions.  37 Of vital importance would be also trainings for staff, in particular to those employees in HR management. Men and women should be involved equally   in institutional decision-making and strategic development, e.g. by making use of quotas or participatory instruments known from community planning. On the symbolic level, the cultural change can also be reflected in the university’s outward image, its use of gender-sensitive language in official materials, and in the way it both drafts and follows charters, codes of conduct and other instruments of symbolic value 38 The Work-Life Balance Project recently implemented by the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) serves as a good example.  39 The goal of the project was  to train HR staff to have proactive approaches to equal opportunities, and to equip scientists with information and practical tools for balancing their family and professional lives.  40

To this end, the institute organized several practical trainings in academic HR management, particularly encouraging the participation of their own HR staff.  41 At the same time, it introduced re-integration programs for scientists on parental leave. These offered financial substitutes comparable to the scientists’ original research positions incomes and also allowed them to stay connected with their specialization area. 42 In addition to that, parent-scientists were informed of measures that would help achieve a work-life balance and offered the help of newly created information networks involving specialized consultants. 43 The initiative shall now be followed by a new project focusing on institutional conditions, the organization of work, the recruitment of new employees and career development. 44

For the V4 countries, typically lagging behind their Western-European counterparts when it comes to making use of EU funds, 45 the European Commission’s current emphasis on gender balance offers a chance for similar bottom-up initiatives driven by individual institutions in the region. However, as long as the projects remain relatively isolated and internally-oriented, 46 and people remain unaware of the political relevance, making use of EU know-how and extensive funding offers  47 will hardly be enough to achieve a long-lasting change.

And back to the roots: from private struggles to political problems

While individual institutions can serve as possible multipliers of best practices in the region, two things are crucial to the assurance of long-term advancements. First, knowledge must be shared with policy makers that are in positions to create incentives for a continuous, nation-wide implementation of positive practices after a project’s end or change in institutions’ management. 48 Second, systemic problems have to be identified, helping to translate “private” struggles and people’s negative experiences into larger political and policy problems that require appropriate legislative solutions.

A sectorial re-politicization of gender equality in science was achieved in the Czech Republic with regard to two major national grant agencies’ project regulations. Following long-term advocacy efforts, the local National Contact Centre – gender and science (NCC) submitted a formal inquiry to the Ombudsman in 2013. In his report, the ombudsman stated that the practice of not allowing for research projects’ postponement or breaks is a case of indirect discrimination, as it disproportionately affects scientists opting for parental leave. 49 Following two years of further dialogue and negotiation, the government altered its policies for the so-called junior grants for young scientists offered by the two national grant agencies. 50 The specific rules that were subsequently adopted allow for grant postponement in certain individual cases, including parental leave. 51

The example shows that changes are possible even without relying on EU funded-projects. To this end, the existence of national “task forces” such as the NCC, even if they consist of only a few individuals, proves important. Established advocacy groups can accumulate individuals’ personal stories of struggle and highlight systemic deficiencies. Also, they play a vital role in identifying the windows of opportunity for advancement on concrete matters.  52 It should be emphasized that strategic litigation can catalyze the process. While turning to courts may prove lengthy, non-judicial complaint mechanisms such as the use of ombudspersons may provide significant potential, which should be explored further.

Last but not least, communication of the measures is important. In this case, the Czech government announced the adopted changes in grant regulations as measures of support for young families – not just women. 53

The full data visualisation is available here. In case you would like to receive the full data set for either country or the whole V4, send us an email at rebecca(at)

The article is part of the project “Learning about causes and effects of gender (im)balance in Central Europe” funded by the European Union flag_yellow_high
The content series was created by the V4Revue, not by the funder.


  1. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (OECD – CERI), “Chapter 10: The Reversal of Education Inequalities in Higher Education: An On-Going Trend,“ Higher Education to 2030, Volume 1: Demography, 2008, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  2. Nataliya Borys, “Interview with Andrea PETŐ, Hungarian scholar and specialist in gender studies about feminism, memory bandits, gender studies and the refugee crisis in Hungary,“ Blog GSI, April 7, 2016, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  3. Compare: V4 Revue’s (Wo)(Men) series, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  4. Dora Groo (Ed.), Re-Claiming a Political Voice: Women and Science in Central Europe, Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague 2008, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  5. However, when it comes to similar studies conducted recently in the US, some have suggested that the parity is not a result of more women entering PhD-level studies, but more men dropping out after their MA. Compare: David Miller & Jonathan Wai, “The bachelor’s to Ph.D. STEM pipeline no longer leaks more women than men: a 30-year analysis,“ Frontiers in Psychology, February 17, 2015, (accessed July 6, 2016); Curt Rice, “The incontinent pipeline: it’s not just women leaving higher education,“, February 18, 2015, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  6. The first group to conduct such reports was the “Enlarge Women in Science to the East” initiative (ENWISE), set up by the European Commission in 2002. The Central European Centre for Women and Youth in Science (CEC-WYS), founded shortly thereafter, continued monitoring progress with follow-up evaluations. See: European Commission (COM), Waste of talents: Turning private struggles into a public issue. Women and science in the Enwise countries, 2004, (accessed July 7, 2016); CEC-WYS, Gender Issues in Science as a Luxury. Enwise follow-up activities in Central Europe, [year unknown], (accessed July 7, 2016); For the latest comprehensive report, see: Groo, Re-Claiming a Political Voice,
  7. Heinrich Böll Foundation, Anti-Gender Movements on the Rise? Strategies for Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe, February 2015, (accessed July 5, 2016); Eszter Kováts & Maari Põim, Gender As Symbolic Glue – The Position and Role of Conservative and Far-Right Parties in the Anti-Gender Mobilizations in Europe, Foundation for European Progressive Studies in Cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Budapest: May 2015, (accessed July 5, 2016).
  8. CEC-WYS, Gender Issues in Science as a Luxury,
  9. Also compare the attitudes of women scientists: Martina Fojtů, “Když má žena motivaci a je pracovitá, prosadí se i bez kvót. [An interview with Kateřina Kaňková],“, (accessed July 4, 2016); Zuzana Mocková, “Ženy ve vědě si vzájemně nepomáhají. Za své postavení si mohou samy, říká profesorka chemie,“ Aktuálně.cz, May 1, 2015, (accessed July 7, 2016).
  10. During her lecture in Stuttgart in 2012, the Hungarian scholar Dora Groo claimed that:  “Most of them [policymakers] hadn’t heard about the problem and did not consider it a problem.“ See: Dora Groo, “Supporting Women Researchers  – Good Practices in Europe,” lecture given at the European Conference on Gender and Innovation – Maximising Innovation Potential Through Diversity in Research Organisations, Stuttgart, March 2012, (accessed July 6, 2016). For Slovakia, see: Dagmar Cagáňová, Gender Diversity – FP 7 Best Practice And Experience With Preparation H2020 , October 20, 2015, p.7, (accessed July 5, 2016). For the Czech Republic, see: Petra Havlíková & Blanka Hnyková, “Neziskový a kademický sektor,“ and Marcela Linková & Hana Tenglerová, “Genderová rovnost ve vědě,“ in Smetáčková, Stínová zpráva o stavu genderové rovnosti v České republice v roce 2015, Česká ženská lobby 2015, p. 35-47 and p. 102-109, (accessed July 5, 2016). Compare also: Gender Debate in the European Research Area (GENDERA), Final Report Summary, p. 3-4, (accessed July 5, 2016).
  11. United Nations Educations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Towards Knowledge Societies, 2005, (accessed July 6, 2016).
  12. For funding specifically see: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1996 to 1999 report which demonstrated among others important differences in the distribution of resources and benefits at the institute. MIT, A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT, 1999, (accessed July 6, 2016).
  13. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, “ESC Guidelines on the management of cardiovascular diseases during pregnancy,“ European Heart Journal, August 26, 2011, (accessed July 8, 2016);  Gendered Innovations, Heart Disease in Women: Formulating Research Questions, (accessed July 8, 2016). However, then the differences should again not be overemphasized. See: Gendered Innovations, De-Gendering the Knee: Overemphasizing Sex Differences as a Problem, (accessed July 7, 2016).
  14. European Commission (COM), Gendered Innovations: How Gender Analysis Contributes to Research, (accessed July 6, 2016); Stanford University, Gendered Innovations, (accessed July 7, 2016).
  15. Jerry Bergman, “The History of Evolution’s Teaching of Women’s Inferiority,“ Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 48:3, September 1996, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  16. For example, a study from 2010 found that men were presenting scientific research in Czech media in some 80% of all cases. See: Hana Tenglerová, “Věda jako mužská záležitost aneb mediální realita českých pop-novin,“ p. 127-147 in Marcela Linková, Kateřina Cidlinská, Hana Tenglerová, Marta Vohlídalová, & Alice Červinková, Nejisté vyhlídky. Proměny vědecké profese z genderové perspektivy. Sociologické nakladatelství SLON, Prague: 2013. See also: Hana Tenglerová, Genderové aspekty zobrazování vědy v médiích: prezentace vědkyň a vědců v českém tisku, diploma thesis, Faculty of Humanities Charles University Prague, 2010, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  17. The Czech Neuron Award for Promising Young Scientists and the Neuron Impulse Award for innovative projects were awarded to men in 86% of the cases in the past five to six years of the prizes’ existence. See: Neuron Fund for Support of Science, The Neuron Award for Promising Young Scientists, (accessed July 4, 2016); and Neuron Fund for Support of Science, Neuron Impulse Grantees, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  18. Faculty of Electrotechnics and Communications Technology, “Vlk z VUT – Wolf of BUT,“, November 28, 2014, (accessed July 4, 2016). Compare: Jan Kolář, “Vlk a kozy aneb akademický sexismus,“ Deník Referendum, November 5, 2014, (accessed July 4, 2016). The VUT advertisement was, however, no exception in the CR. Compare e.g.: ČTK, Jan Jiřička, “Anticenu za sexistickou reklamu dostal náborový klip pro budoucí lesníky,“ iDnes, November 28, 2013, (accessed July 5, 2016); Iva Špačková, “Jsme dobří jak prase a kozy si neděláme, láká univerzita nové studenty,“ iDnes, December 13, 2013, (accessed July 5, 2016); and Curt Rice, “Science: it’s a girl thing! A viral fiasco,” The Guardian, June 29, 2012, (accessed July 6, 2016); Press Release, “Science: It’s a girl thing! Statement from members of the gender expert advisory group,”, June 26, 2012, (accessed July 7, 2016).
  19. The first research on the topic conducted in Sweden in 1997, found that female applicants for post-doc grants from the Swedish Grant Agency had to have 2.5 more publications in scientific journals than their male counterparts, in order to receive the same ranking. According to a study conducted for the Spanish government in 2011, Spanish men, were 2.5 times more likely than women with identical credentials to become a professor. See: Christine Wennerås and Agnes Wold, “Nepotism and sexism in peer review,“ Nature 387, p. 341-343, May 22, 1997, (accessed July 4, 2016); Unidad de mujeres i ciencia, White Paper on the Position of Women in Science in Spain, 2011, (accessed July 6, 2016). For other recent studies from Italy, Turkey, Ireland, Germany and Bulgaria, see: Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia (FESTA), Expert Report: Gender Issues in Recruitment, Appointment and Promotion Processes – Recommendations for a Gender Sensitive Application of Excellence Criteria, January 2015, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  20. See e.g.: Trix & Psenka, who examined more than 300 medical faculty staff applicants’ recommendation letters. Frances Trix & Caroline Psenka, “Exploring the Color of Glass: Letters of Recommendation for Female and Male Medical Faculty,“ Discourse Society, 14(2): 191-220, March 2003, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  21. Misra, Joya, Lundquist, Jennifer Hickes, Elissa Holmes & Stephanie Agiomavritis, “The Ivory Ceiling of Service Work,“ Academe, 97(1): 22-26, January-February 2011, (accessed July 6, 2016).
  22. DVTV, “Ženská práce je hůř hodnocena než mužská, tvrdí socioložka,“ Aktuálně.TV, August 10, 2015, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  23. According to recent UNESCO data, men constitute 55% of graduates from PhD programs, but 72% of all researchers. UNESCO, “Section 1: Which levels and fields do women pursue in tertiary education and in research careers?“ in UNESCO eAtlas of Gender Inequality in Education, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  24. Yvonne Benschop & Margo Brouns, “Crumbling Ivory Towers: Academic Organizing and its Gender Effects,“ Gender, Work & Organization, 10(2): 194–212, March 2003, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  25. This is a rather general trend for the whole job market in the V4. In the Czech Republic , 10.6% of women and 3.6% of men with tertiary educations are employed on a part-time basis. In Slovakia, it is 3.4% of women and 1.6% of men. In Poland it is 7.4% of women and 3.7% of men. In Hungary it is 5.2% of women and 2.3% of men. Meanwhile, in the EU overall 25% of women and 7.5% of men with tertiary educations are working of part-time basis. See: Český statistický úřad (ČSÚ), Zaostřeno na ženy a muže – práce a mzdy. 4 – 33. Mezinárodní srovnání – podíl zaměstnaných na částečný úvazek 2014, December 31, 2015, (accessed July 8, 2016).
  26. Compare COM, The gender challenge in research funding: Assessing the European National Scenes, 2009, (accessed July 5, 2016). Gender Debate in the European Research Area (GENDERA), Final Report Summary, (accessed July 5, 2016); Tudományos és Technológiai Alapítvány (TETALAP), Rodová rovnost’ vo vede a výskume: Dobré praktiky a odporúčania pre univerzity a vedeckovýskumné organizácie, (accessed July 5, 2016). Compare also: Nataliya Borys, “Interview with Andrea PETŐ,
  27. Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí [Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs] (MPSV), Bariéry a možnosti využití flexibilních forem práce v ČR z komparativní perspektivy, (accessed July 4, 2016); See also: Havlíková & Hnyková, “Neziskový a kademický sektor“ and Linková & Tenglerová, “Genderová rovnost ve vědě“
  28. In their shadow report from 2015, several representatives of Czech NGOs and the National Contact Centre – Gender and Science (NCC) raised concerns about academic work becoming increasingly precarized, and that the precarisation is specifically gendered. Havlíková & Hnyková, “Neziskový a akademický sektor,“ and Linková & Tenglerová, “Genderová rovnost ve vědě,“
  29. The rates for involuntary part-time employment are high in the V4, as well as on EU average. In the V4, they range between 21% and 38% for women, and 18.5% to 46% for men. See: Český statistický úřad (ČSÚ), Zaostřeno na ženy a muže – práce a mzdy,
  30. For example, in the CR, the laws so far ascribe them the minimum monthly allowance, which is by rule, paid over the duration of four years. If they do not want to lose the support altogether, they must refrain from working and stay home with their child for the full four years. Recently, the government has approved changes in the respective laws. See: National Contact Centre – Gender and Science, Rodinná politika v ČR a věda, (accessed July 6, 2016); Rybová, Romana, Rodičkovská dovolená 2016 – vše co potřebujete vědět, January 1, 2016, (accessed July 7, 2016). For the planned changes see: ČT24, ČTK, “Vláda schválila rychlejší rodičovskou. Měsíčně půjde čerpat až 33 tisíc,“ Česká, (accessed July 7, 2016).
  31. See: National Contact Centre – Gender and Science, Rodinná politika v ČR a věda, (accessed July 6, 2016).
  32. DVTV, “Ženská práce je hůř hodnocena než mužská, tvrdí socioložka,“ Aktuálně.TV, August 10, 2015, (accessed July 4, 2016).
  33. Council of the European Union – Competitiveness Council, Council Conclusions Concerning Various Issues Related to the Development of the European Research Area (ERA), May 28, 2010, (accessed June 26, 2016); European Commission (COM), Structural change in research institutions: Enhancing excellence, gender equality and efficiency in research and innovation. Report of the Expert Group on Structural Change, 2012, (accessed July 5, 2016); COM, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth, July 17, 2012, (accessed June 26, 2016); Council of the European Union – Competitiveness Council, Council Conclusions on “A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth,” December 12, 2012, (accessed June 26, 2016); Council of the European Union – Competitiveness Council, Council Conclusions on Advancing Gender Equality in the European Research Area, December 1, 2015, (accessed June 26, 2016).
  34. On the necessity of not only systematic, but cultural change, see: Marieke Van den Brink & Yvonne Benschop, “Slaying the seven-headed dragon: the quest for gender change in academia,” Gender, Work and Organization 19(1), (accessed July 5, 2016).
  35. Londa Schiebinger, What is Gendered Innovations?, (accessed July 7, 2016).
  36. Compare Aberdeen College, Equality Action Plan 2012-2013, (accessed July 6, 2016); Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH), Action Plan for Improving Gender Balance in Academic Positions, December 14, 2011, (accessed July 6, 2016); University of Edinburgh, Athena SWAN Silver university award application, 2015 [originally in 2006, renewal 2009 and 2012], (accessed July 6, 2016). 
  37. COM, The European Charter for Researchers, (accessed July 6, 2016); COM, The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, (accessed July 6, 2016); Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), Athena SWAN Charter, (accessed July 6, 2016).  Effective Gender Equality in Research and the Academia (EGERA), Antwerp Charter on Gender-Sensitive Communication in and by Academic Institutions, (accessed July 5, 2016). See also: the ethical Codex of Masaryk University which was recently amended to include specific provisions on gender. Masarykova univerzita, Etický kodex akademických a odborných pracovníků Masarykovy univerzity – Směrnice Masarykovy univerzity č. 6/2015, [last updated December 17, 2015], (accessed July 6, 2016); Ema Wisnerová, “Na univerzitě vznikl panel pro rovné příležitosti,“, February 2, 2016, (accessed July 6, 2016).
  38. CEITEC, Work-Life Balance Project – About Project,, accessed July 5, 2016.
  39. Ibid.
  40. CEITEC, Work-Life Balance Project – News, (accessed July 5, 2016).
  41. Ibid.
  42. CEITEC, Mateřská a rodičovská dovolená v kostce, 2015, (accessed July 8, 2016); CEITEC, Granty a rodičovství, 2015, (accessed July 8, 2016); and CEITEC, Pre-school care in brief, 2015, (accessed July 8, 2016).
  43. CEITEC, Work-Life Balance Project – News,
  44. The overall participation of the V4 countries in the FP 7 and FP 6, European Union’s Research and Innovation Funding Programs, was among the lowest in Europe. Between 2007 and 2014 some 500 grants were assigned in Slovakia, some 1,500 grants in the CR and Hungary, and 2,194 in Poland, as compared to more then 11,000 in Italy, 17,000 in the UK or almost 18,000 in Germany. Compare: COM, Research and Innovations, FP 7 Statistics – country participation, [last updated August 25, 2015], available online at (accessed July 5, 2016); COM, Evaluation of the Sixth Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development 2002-2006, Report of the Expert Group, February 2009, p. 17-20, (accessed July 5, 2016).
  45. In the scope of the research conducted for this article, the following projects were identified: All V4 countries participated in the nationally-tailored Stimulating Policy Debate on Women and Science Issues in Central Europe project (WS DEBATE). In the CR, the University of Chemistry and Technology (VŠCHT) participated both in the International Transforming Institutions by Gendering Contents and Gaining Equality in Research (TRIGGER) and the national PEDICEV project; the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Czech Globe) participated in the international EGERA project; and the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITE) implemented the national Work-Life Balance project. In Slovakia, the Matej Bel University (UMB) participated in the GENDERA project together with the Hungarian Science and Technology Foundation (TETALAP). Finally the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava took part in the Consortium for Diversity project.

    See: Stimulating Policy Debate on Women and Science Issues in Central Europe project (WS DEBATE), Final Report Summary, [updated October 3, 2012], (accessed July 6, 2016); VŠCHT, Co je to GRO?, [updated October 22, 2015], (accessed July 5, 2016); Czech Globe, Human Resources, (accessed July 5, 2016); CEITEC, Work-Life Balance Project, July 5, 2016); Gender Debate in the European Research Area (GENDERA), Final Report Summary,; and Cagáňová, Gender Diversity,

  46. Gender equality is one of the priorities of the Horizon 2020, the largest EU research and innovation program ever, with nearly 80 billion EUR available between 2014 and 2020. In the several work programs in “Science with and for society” scheme, 462 million Euros in total should be made available for projects that tackle gender inequalities in science. See: COM, Guidance on Gender Equality in Horizon 2020 – Version 2.0, April 22, 2016, (accessed July 6, 2016); COM, Factsheet: Horizon 2020 budget, November 25, 2013, (accessed July 7, 2016).  See also: COM, Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016 – 2017: 16. Science with and for Society, March 9, 2016, (accessed July 5, 2016); COM, Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014 – 2015: 16. Science with and for Society – Revised, (accessed July 5, 2016).
  47. Sustainable knowledge transfer was a regular weakness in past projects, with institutional know-how sometimes getting completely lost only a few years after a project’s end, the GENDERA project is illustrative of this. The project, starting around 2009, involved nine scientific institutions from all over Europe, including the Slovak Matej Bel University (UMB) and the Hungarian Science and technology Foundation (TETALAP), set up national task forces, and an extensive database of best practices on advancing gender equality in science. However, the project’s website is now non-functional only two years after the project ended. Likewise, in scope of the present research, neither the composition of the task forces nor whether their recommendations had been implemented, could be found. See: Gender Debate in the European Research Area (GENDERA), Final Report Summary, p.3,; and Groo, “Supporting Women Researchers,” a lecture,
  48. Veřejný ochránce práv (VOP), Závěrečná zpráva o výsledku šetření – Poskytování postdoktorských grantů – rovné příležitosti mužů a žen v oblasti vědy a výzkumu, January 23, 2013, (accessed June 28, 2016).
  49. Vláda České republiky, “Změny v juniorských grantech GAČR zohlední vědce-rodiče,“, January 28, 2015, (accessed July 6, 2015).
  50. Grantová Agentura ČR (GAČR), Změny v průběhu řešení – postdoktorské a juniorské granty, (accessed July 6, 2016). See also: GAČR, Orientační průvodce matěřstvím a rodičovstvím v zadávacích dokumentacích poskytovatele, (accessed July 6, 2016).
  51. Compared to the other V4 countries, the CR does not seem to be experiencing a significant “backlash” or rise of “anti-gender movements,” at present.  See: Heinrich Böll Foundation, Anti-Gender Movements on the Rise?,
  52. Vláda České republiky, “Změny v juniorských grantech GAČR zohlední vědce-rodiče,“
Zuzana Pavelková

Zuzana Pavelková

is an activist and founder of the initiative "Česko vítá uprchlíky" (Czech Republic welcomes refugees). She worked with different civil society organizations and initiatives advocating for refugee and migrant rights in Germany,​ ​France​ and Czech Republic.