Enhancing the position of women in research and innovation was defined as a priority in EU policies during the 1990s. On this basis, the EU has developed policies to encourage women to engage in science and technology education, promoting the equal participation of women and men in the evaluation committees, research programs and guaranteeing equal access to European funding sources. More recently, the European Commission sought to widen the scope of research through the funding of the program “Gendered Innovations”, which focuses on innovations produced when gender analysis is integrated into the research priorities of knowledge fields where gender prejudices are dominant.
According to Unesco’s report on women in science in Greece, while more women are enrolling in university, relatively few pursue careers in research. There are many leaks in the pipeline – from stereotypes encountered by girls to the family-caring responsibilities to biases women may face when choosing a career.Women researchers tend to work in the academic and government sectors while men dominate the private research sector, which offers better salaries and opportunities.As in most countries, Greek women focus on the social sciences and remain under-represented in engineering and technology.
The gendered construction of research and innovation in Greece constitutes the core subject of a book titled “Gender, Research and Innovation in Greece”, which is based on a field research conducted between September 2013 and February 2015, within the framework of the ELISTOKAINO research project. Research focused on the factors determining the formation of gender relations in the field of scientific research in Greece and the gendered innovations generated by the integration of gender approaches to science.
The book suggests that the production of scientific knowledge in Greece is determined by, and then reproduces, gender binaries and hierarchies, while it reinforces gender inequalities in research institutions – including the limited representation of women in research and teaching, the presence of vertical and horizontal segregation, as well as the lack of policy measures and action plans for the promotion of gender equality in universities and research institutes. Although the adoption of Article 57 of Law 3653/2008 “Institutional framework for research and technology and other provisions” determined by gender the rate of participation of scientists in staffing national institutions and committees of research and technology, there has been no significant progress in its implementation, while no appeals or complaints against its non-implementation were recorded.
Before the 1990s, women researchers faced apparent gender discrimination, emanating from their non-acceptance by the male-dominated scientific communities and from the grave difficulties they faced in order to reconcile their work and family life. Since then, the growing number of women participating in the research sector has led initially to the improvement of working relations and conditions. The recent proliferation of precarious forms of employment, however, has new forms of gender discrimination associated with the imposition of a temporary, casual and disenfranchised labour regime to mostly younger researchers. As a result, intense intergenerational differences have emerged with the Greek research community and thus the strengthening of the labour rights of precarious researchers, especially in relation to gender, has become a critical issue.
The reconciliation of personal, family and professional life for women researchers working in Greece poses a complex problem that is associated with the shortcomings of public infrastructures and services and the demanding caring responsibilities allocated to women on the basis of dominant masculine and feminine standards. For precarious (and usually younger) female researchers, the choice of having a family implies their marginalization within the research sector, at least in relation to competitive positions, which are associated with high productivity rates and long working hours.
Regarding gender innovations, huge disparities between the Greek case and other European countries are observed. Most women researchers are not even familiar with this terminology, although it has been integrated in European policies on research and innovation, especially in the Horizon 2020 framework programme.
The book concludes that the prospect of development of appropriate structures for the integration of gender equality is a critical objective for all research institutions. Gender mainstreaming should be implemented in ways that ensure the mitigation of intergenerational inequalities based on gender and employment status. Challenging gender hierarchies within the research and innovation sector will undoubtedly give greater impetus to women and men researchers to work and cooperate under better and more equitable conditions.