Podcast: University leaders on “breaking the glass ceiling”

Published: Thursday 29th February 2024
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In a provocative new podcast series, 15 university leaders talk about gender inequality encounter in academia and how we can best tackle it.

Elsevier’s report The researcher journey through a gender lens found that while the participation of women in research is increasing overall, inequality persists across geographies and subject areas in terms of publication output, citations, awarded grants and collaboration. While that report was published in 2020, the topic is as timely as ever: To tackle inequality in research and academia, we need female leadership and role models.

In advance of Elsevier’s next global report on gender in research, the Elsevier Foundation has collaborated with the European Women Rectors Association (EWORA) and Science|Business to create an insightful and provocative podcast series. It features 15 prominent women university rectors and presidents, one for every year EWORA has been advocating for equality in leadership positions. They shed light on the state of university leadership in Europe and can help to inspire the next generation of female academics and scientists aiming for the top.

“The position of women in any society, in any industry, in any endeavor can go backward as well as forward, so we have to be vigilant to that,” said Prof Orla Feely, President of University College Dublin, who is featured in the second podcast.

Federica Rosetta, VP of Academic and Research Relations at Elsevier, helped forge the partnership behind the podcast campaign, noting that “by exploring the leaders’ personal journeys and their views on the barriers to leadership for women in academia, our goal has been to uncover what further interventions are required, and the cultural change we need to see across the sector and beyond.”

At the recent Science|Business conference in in Brussels, Moderator Maryline Fiaschi, CEO of Science|Business, convened a panel on “Empowering women in science,” probing these questions further with two of the interviewees: Prof Feely and Prof Gülsün Sağlamer, Founding Honorary President of EWORA. She challenged them to identify barriers for women research leaders in reaching the top, to comment on the pros and cons of gender quotas, and to recommend the best use of data for articulating challenges, benchmarking progress and developing evidence-based interventions.

The Breaking the glass ceiling podcast features 15 prominent women university leaders in Europe. The series starts with Prof Maria Chiara Carrozza, President of Italy’s National Research Council; Prof Orla Feely; President of University College Dublin; Prof Rianne Letschert, President of Maastricht University, the Netherlands; and Kerstin Tham, Vice-chancellor of Malmö University, Sweden. The interviews are conducted by Ylann Schemm, Dr Sarah Main and Dr Lesley Thompson of Elsevier.

Read the full article on Elsevier Connect: “Podcast: University leaders on “breaking the glass ceiling”“, Rebecca Clear, 29 February 2024.