Gender equality

Gender equality is a key concern of the Swiss National Science Foundation. The SNSF is fully committed to promoting a balanced representation of women and men in different roles and bodies, and in research as a whole.

The underrepresentation of women in science and research is still a reality in Switzerland. The drop in numbers occurs already in the transition from master's degree to doctorate. Over a third more men than women take this step. And this remains a visible trend also in academic careers after this stage. Men are more likely to finish their doctoral thesis and continue as researchers. The share of female professors remains stable but low.

With regard to gender equality, Switzerland is below average compared to other countries in Europe, and despite national action plans and funding measures, this situation has remained largely unchanged. The underrepresentation of women stands in stark contrast to the law and to the values held by the majority of the Swiss population. The advantages for the economy are also well known - for instance, it has been proven that mixed teams are more productive.

Research funding based on gender mainstreaming

Diversity and equal opportunities are important quality criteria for research in Switzerland. The SNSF is committed to gender equality for this reason and offers a range of funding measures to counteract the underrepresentation of women. The principle of gender mainstreaming is an important guideline in this respect. It is an internationally tried-and-tested strategy for establishing gender equality at all levels. In a first step, the social and structural inequalities between men and women are highlighted; subsequently their impact is analysed and, in a final step, the root causes of these inequalities are eliminated. This means that the different parameters determining the lives of men and women need to be factored in from the outset for all decisions, projects and ideas.

Gender equality at the SNSF

In accordance with the principle of gender mainstreaming, gender equality has been defined as an objective across all bodies and activities of the SNSF. This gives it the necessary importance. The SNSF also applies its understanding of gender equality at institutional level. In its Foundation Council, for instance, 40 per cent or more of the members are women. And the SNSF also strives to achieve a balance between men and women at all levels of the hierarchy. The SNSF annually conducts gender equality monitoring in project funding, during which it analyses the success rates of male and female applicants and other indicators.

Its commitment to gender equality is defined in a mission statement. The SNSF's office for "Gender Equality in Research Funding" supports internal bodies in implementing the necessary measures. Finally, the SNSF receives sound advice on this subject from the Gender Equality Commission, which is composed of experts from around the world who collectively contribute to the development of suitable strategies.

Gender Equality in research funding