A young institution at 20 years, the University is working to foster an environment which not only attracts talented female researchers, but also offers them reasons to stay and develop their full academic potential here.
"Gender equality is a question of fairness and an important tool for promoting academic excellence at our research university", says Prof. Jens Kreisel, rector of the University. "The proportion of women in academia has been improved but remains painfully too low. More widely, a diverse and equal opportunities environment is essential to understand the complexity of today’s challenges. It also motivates exceptional researchers to join the University and most importantly, to stay and further their careers in our community." Surveys confirmed that women increasingly take into consideration a gender-friendly working environment when making career change decisions.
Creating a gender-equal research environment includes ensuring equal opportunities at all levels for professional and personal development, adequate recruitment policy and practice, adequate research environments and policies for pregnant researchers and parents, as well as support mechanisms for young researchers. To implement such measures, institutions also work on transparent decision-making processes, internal communication and awareness raising.
Building on a comprehensive approach
Over the course of the last years, several measures have been implemented with this objective in view. The Gender Equality Delegate, Prof. Skerdilajda Zanaj, spearheads policy and practice in this area and chairs the Gender Equality Committee. Since 2019, the official Gender Equality Policy guides promotion of gender diversity in academia. "Building a gender equal academic environment requires careful attention to several key factors", states Prof. Zanaj. "One crucial aspect is the presence of role models, who serve as beacons of inspiration and who can show ways forward to challenge stereotypes. We are working on several initiatives to attract leading academics to Luxembourg. As part of supporting research excellence through dedicated mentoring and grants, the University also has taken action to improve work-life balance of researcher parents."
Recent milestones include the brand-new Marie Speyer Excellence Grants. These grants will support women, from PhD to associate professor level, to further their research at the University.
Female researchers can join the ADVANCE mentoring programme , which pairs young female researchers with an experienced researcher. Launched in 2023, ADVANCE offers several formats to catalyse collaboration, professional growth and empowerment.
A networking lunch for female professors takes place in regular intervals.
Several measures are put in place to improve the work-life balance of parent researchers. The gender equality office funds daycare expenses for parents leaving for conferences with their young children. In addition, a procedure exists to set up a temporary daycare for children of conference participants on campus.
More and more women act as Special advisors to the rectorate, managing strategic institutional portfolios, such as Profs. Anja Leist (Research Assessment), Emma Schymanski (Open Science) or Valérie Schafer (Archiving).
Today, key leadership positions are occupied by female researchers: The Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance voted for a second mandate its Dean Prof. Katalin Ligeti, while the three vice-rector positions are held by Profs. Catherine Léglu (Academic affairs), Marie-Hélène Jobin (Partnerships and international relations) and Simone Niclou (Research). Most of the University’s special committees are chaired by women: Prof. Silvia Allegrezza (Ethics Review Panel), Prof. Séverine Menetrey (Litigation), Joanna West (Reasonable Adjustments) and Prof. Jennifer Behm (Animal Experimentation Ethics).
Research Luxembourg launches third season of the " Women and Girls in Science " campaign.