Working Group on Gender Balance

Women and men are equally able to perform excellent frontier research. This is the view of ERC Scientific Council. Each process within the ERC - from creating awareness about the ERC to signing of grant agreements – is designed to give equal opportunities to men and women. To monitor gender balance in ERC calls, in 2008, the ERC set up a dedicated working group. 

ERC Gender Equality Plan

The Working Group on Gender Balance drafted the ERC Gender Equality Plan 2007-2013 and the ERC Gender Equality Plan 2014-2020, endorsed by the ERC Scientific Council.

Main objectives of the ERC Scientific Council Gender Equality Plan: 

  •  raising awareness about the ERC gender policy among potential applicants;
  • working towards improving gender balance among ERC candidates and within ERC-funded research teams;
  • identifying and removing any potential gender bias in the ERC evaluation procedures;
  • embedding gender awareness within all levels of the ERC processes  - while keeping focus on excellence;
  • striving for gender balance among the ERC peer reviewers and other relevant ERC bodies.

Activities of the Working Group

The Working Group has commissioned two studies:

  • Gender aspects in career structures and career paths
  • ERC proposal submission, peer review and gender mainstreaming

The Working Group organised a workshop in 2013:

  • "On the way to the top: providing equal opportunities for men and women in science and technology" (see the agenda and final summary)

Measures and practices to improve gender balance

The ERC has introduced a measure about parental leave whereby female applicants' eligibility window is extended by 18 months per child. For example, if a female scientists has one child, and she obtained her PhD 8 years earlier, she can still apply for a Starting Grant grant (8 - 1.5 year of parental leave = 6.5 year of professional experience after PhD)

Female ERC grantees are also often asked to explain their ERC experience and to showcase their ERC-funded research, to promote female participation in the ERC and encourage more women to apply for ERC calls by creating female role-models.


  • The lower share of women in the ERC calls mirrors the overall situation in science in Europe
  • From 2007 – 2013, around 25% of all ERC applicants and 20% of all ERC grantees were women (see statistics)

Above: Share of women applicants and grantees by domain in all ERC calls 2007 – 2013

  • In the 2014 ERC Consolidator Grant call, the overall success rate of women was for the first time higher than men  

Above: Success rate of women and men applicants in all ERC calls in 2014 

Working Group Members


ERC Executive Agency secretariat: Severina Shopova, Unit for Support to the Scientific Council

·         embedding gender awareness within all levels of the ERC processes-from creating awareness about the ERC to grant signing-while keeping the focus on excellence;

achieving in the medium term striving for gender balance among