Flexibility Grant: research and childcare are compatible

From now on, even more researchers with childcare duties are eligible for an SNSF Flexibility Grant.

It is difficult for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to both forge ahead with their careers and look after their children. The SNSF offers special grants to ensure that researchers with childcare duties do not suffer a competitive disadvantage. Since 2018, this measure has been known as the Flexibility Grant. Early career scientists receive up to 30,000 francs per year to finance external childcare. Postdocs can also use the grant to employ staff for the project.

82 grants

Demand has seen a steep increase. The SNSF awarded just 12 support grants - as they were then called - in 2017, in stark contrast to this year's much higher figure of 82 Flexibility Grants. The majority of doctoral students and postdocs who received a grant are women. Simona Isler, Gender Equality Representative of the SNSF is satisfied with the results so far. "But an even higher number of grants would be welcome. Everyone in this situation should be able to benefit from a Flexibility Grant. Our funding should reach those who need it most."

The new features

To allow more researchers with children to benefit from the grant, access will be simplified for doctoral students. Up to now, they were expected to have a work quota of at least 80%, or 0.8 FTE. This is not a criterion any longer. All SNSF-funded doctoral students are now eligible for Flexibility Grants as long as they meet the other criteria.

In principle, covering at least half of the childcare duties is still a requirement for receiving a Flexibility Grant. For dual career couples, however, the requirements have been made more flexible in view of their situation.

In addition, the SNSF has scrapped the two-month waiting period. Grants are now available already as of the beginning of the month in which the application is sent.

Strategic aim

"Thanks to these innovations, more researchers will be able to balance their careers and their family life," says Simona Isler. The Flexibility Grants are part of a set of measures the SNSF has taken to promote gender equality. The SNSF plans to focus even more strongly on this strategic goal in the coming years.

Flexibility Grant