Marina Calloni | Does a European model of women in/ and science exist?

Abstract

Since the 90’s the issue of women and/ in science has become one of the crucial questions debated in the European Union not only in terms of equal opportunities, mainstreaming and gender balance but as a matter that challenges traditional conceptions of science, research and excellence, questioning gender blind epistemologies.
Taking as a background the ongoing debate about the social/ public meaning of science in Europe, the paper is aimed at summarizing the main activities and policies developed by the European Commission about the issue of women/ gender in/ and science.
At this regard two reports issued by the European Commission, I was involved in as an expert, will be considered. The Enwise (2004) report, focussed on the situation of women scientists in ten post-socialist countries, and the Masis (2010) report, devoted to the examination of the role of science in society and the analysis of new trends, will be taken as examples for innovative approaches to gender and science.
In particular, the Masis report is aimed at individuating the role that a fair and “democratic” science can play in the reinforcement of the European identity and basic principles. At this regard, the strengthening of human potential and in particular of women in science becomes fundamental. However, this traditional issue has to be re-conceptualized in relation to new phenomena. For instance, the increasing feminization, that is a stronger presence of women in research and educational sectors, does not imply better changes for women in science. Indeed, the problem is not the promulgation of new equal opportunities legislation but a more effective implementation and the enforcement of severe monitoring and measuring procedures, together with the changing of mentalities, stereotypes and forms of self-inhibition, which prevents a free development of human capabilities. The issue of women and/ in science is not only a matter of quantity (increasing the presence) but a question of quality (a different meaning and approach to science).
The future of a social European Union based on the respect of human rights and the development/ empowerment of individual/ collective capabilities depends from the idea and practice of science and education, which the involved social actors will be able to conceive and apply in everyday life.