Kick-off event of the PRIMA Leadership Programme: The SNSF wants to see more women in leadership positions

The SNSF has launched its new leadership programme. Innovative leadership concepts and more women in leading positions are to help us confront the current challenges in science and society resolutely and successfully.

Focusing on leadership and gender, the event on 3 April in Bern attracted great interest. Among the invited guests were leaders and gender experts with a background in academia. Proceedings got underway with a welcome address by Professor Matthias Egger, president of the National Research Council, and an introductory speech by Professor Susan Gasser, president of the Gender Equality Commission of the SNSF. Subsequently, the renowned leadership expert Margaret J. Wheatley spoke about the important role of women in leadership positions and how they can contribute to sustainable solutions to current challenges. She emphasised their important contributions to sustainable solutions for our times: "Without a wide range of different perspectives on current scientific and societal issues, we won’t make any progress," said Wheatley. The days of the ‘lone-wolf scientist’ were definitely over.

In the second part of the event, a panel including Matthias Egger, Brigitte Galliot (vice rector of the University of Geneva), Julia Nentwich (gender expert) and Gary Loke (international member of the Gender Equality Commission) discussed ways in which an adequate representation of women in research and leadership positions could finally be achieved. The panellists stressed that it was the institutions and the academic culture that had to change, not the women researchers. It wasn’t their fault if they didn’t reach the top – a clear message to the PRIMA award winners and women in the audience.​

Leadership for PRIMA grantees

The SNSF has developed the new leadership programme in parallel with the PRIMA funding scheme for excellent women researchers. PRIMA grantees will be the participants in the programme. In the next five years, they will benefit from workshops, coachings and networking opportunities. The kick-off event offered a taste for what's to come: the SNSF gave a platform to these successful women scientists and their research projects while also creating networking opportunities during the concluding drinks reception.

The event was moderated by the experienced presenter Conny Czymoch and accompanied by live illustrations made by the artist Edith Steiner-Janesch.