Balancing recruitment, retention & career progression


More and more women are taking on research careers. But despite increasing numbers of women getting their PhD’s, they are still underrepresented at the highest academic positions, as full professors, as authors of peer-review papers and as leaders of research teams. We work to change this pattern through skills development, awareness-raising, and advocating for policy change.

Science is not value-neutral. Conscious and unconscious bias influences our ideas of who is the best candidate for a position, who will be of more value to the organisation in the long term, and who should be promoted. Gender bias is part of the reason for the underrepresentation of women in senior research positions. We will work to support scientific research excellence in partner organisations by creating preconditions for locating and hiring the best candidates, without the effect of unconscious gender bias. And implement policies that raise awareness and foster dialogue of gendered practices among those who take decisions about who to recruit and promote at the top and bottom of research organisations, inside and outside the MINDtheGEPs project. 

Supporting women in their careers

MINDtheGEPs will support skills development by reinforcing the skills required to conduct excellent research among women in junior research positions who are at the beginning of their research careers. This includes training on how to write an "excellent" paper or project proposal, how to publish in high-ranking journals, how to build networks, and so on. MINDtheGEPs training will also cover how gender is constructed at all levels, consciously as well as unconsciously. And how our gender biases affect our definitions of excellence, what makes a successful career and who is considered a good leader. Because men are also part of these gendered organisations, practices and cultures, the training opportunities on deconstructing gender bias will also involve men. 

Work-family measures

The research system tends to favour those who take it on unconditionally. But conference participation, networking, and strict submission deadlines do not always combine well with the unpredictable nature and great responsibilities of caregiving. We work to create the preconditions for moving away from the unconditional worker model, where researchers are expected to value work over family and not have the right to disconnect from their research to devote time to other areas of their lives. To deconstruct the idea that caregiving is a feminine trait, and to support a more gender-neutral distribution of family responsibilities, we will support both men and women in this transition. 

We will raise awareness among researchers at partner organisations of what their rights are in terms of combining their research careers with caring for their families. And we will negotiate solutions to the most pressing issues with local management.

Breaking down attitudes and practices at the top

We are taking a bottom-up top-down approach to promoting gender equality in research. As part of work to tackle these issues from the top down, we will offer training for women and men at the top of research organisations, those who hold management positions and seats in decision-making bodies to raise awareness of gender gaps at all levels of research organisations. Whether it be in recruitment, promotion, decision-making, or research programmes and financing, we will identify and raise awareness of the causal mechanisms. Both at the level of the individual, the partner organisation, and in national policies. Taking a particularly detailed approach to identifying unconscious gender bias in the procedures and criteria used to evaluate merit and excellence. 

Contact person

Paulina Sekuła

Paulina Sekuła

Paulina Sekuła, PhD, is assistant professor at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Her research interests cover gender equality, particularly in the realm of gender and research and academia, political culture and theories of democracy. For a few years she has been involved as a researcher in projects focusing on structural change in higher education institutions, including H2020 projects GENERA (Gender Equality in European Research Area, 2015-2018), ACT (Communities of Practice for Accelerating Gender Equality and Institutional Change in Research and Innovation across Europe, 2018-2021) and MINDtheGEPs (Modifying Institution by Developing Gender Equality Plans, 2021-2025) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation project Study of the potential of international mobile women scientists (2020-2021). Currently she is also a co-facilitator of the ACT Community of Practice for Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Contact: paulina.sekula[at]

Last modified: 2022-02-11