International Women’s Day: EU support to women in research, science and education

On today’s International Women’s Day, the empowerment of women and girls, in all of their diversity, is at the centre around the globe.

Female talent is crucial for Europe, not least in the fields of research, science and education. The Commission continues its work to support women in achieving their goals and pushes for greater equality between women and men through its EU Gender Equality Strategy.

Initiatives in research, science and education to highlight this year include: the 2022 EU Prize for Women Innovators, the WomenTech EU programme, the European Strategy for Universities, the new European Research Area frameworkgender equality criterion in Horizon Europe, the call for women experts and the Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal. Moreover, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, has announced a brand-new social media campaign: #SHEULeads as part of the European Year of Youth. This new initiative puts young women in the spotlight by inviting them to share their personal experience – successes and challenges, their missions, and how Europe has supported them in their journey

Commissioner Gabriel said:

The empowerment of women and girls is at the core of our European values and goals. Throughout my portfolio, we aim to foster environments that help women succeed, and lead in their respective fields. This year, we highlight some key initiatives undertaken to support women in science, innovation, culture and education.

Today, the Commission’s thoughts are with the brave women and girls across Ukraine, who bear the brunt of the armed conflict, and we congratulate their crucial role in defending peace and democracy.

2022 EU Prize for Women Innovators

The European Innovation Council (EIC) launches today the ninth edition of the EU Prize for Women Innovators with a deadline on 18 August (17:00 CET). The EIC will award three prizes of €100,000 each to the most inspiring women innovators across the EU and Associated Countries and to mark the European Year of Youth, the EIC will be awarding a further three prizes of €50,000 each to promising ‘Rising Innovators’ under the age of 35. The prize is open to women innovators in all EU Member States and Associated Countries, including Ukraine

Women TechEU programme

Following the very encouraging response to this first pilot, the Commission will renew the Women TechEU programme. The budget for the next call will be increased to €10 million, which will fund roughly 130 companies and is open to women innovators in all EU Member States and Associated Countries, including Ukraine.

European Strategy for Universities

The European strategy for universities proposes concrete actions for transformation and the development of deeper European cooperation, in order to prepare students for present and future challenges, such as:

  • Setting up a European framework for diversity and inclusion in higher education, that includes a strong focus on gender gaps;
  • Support a manifesto on gender inclusive education from universities focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering (The Arts) and Mathematics – a field in which women are still underrepresented;
  • Support universities in the development of inclusive gender equality plans that includes voluntary and quantified targets.

Gender equality in Horizon Europe

The Commission is strengthening the support for gender equality in research and innovation by introducing a new eligibility criterion in the Horizon Europe programme. As of 2022, public bodies, research organisations and higher education establishments are required to have a Gender Equality Plan in place in order to apply for funding.

Gender equality in the new European Research Area

Efforts on gender equality have been stepped up in the new European Research Area (ERA) proposed by the Commission in the Communication on “A new ERA for Research and Innovation”. It proposes building on Horizon Europe programme objectives, to develop inclusive gender equality plans with Member States and stakeholders in order to promote EU gender equality in R&I while opening gender equality policies to broader inclusiveness on three levels:

  • Intersectionality between gender and other social categories and grounds for discrimination, such as ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation;
  • Inclusiveness at geographical level, paying particular attention to widening countries;
  • And inclusiveness at sectorial level, by engaging with the private sector and promoting gender-responsive innovation.

Women experts to assess projects

The Commission calls on women to register as evaluators in the experts’ database to assess project proposals applying for EU research and innovation funding. Currently only 38% of the evaluators are women. Professionals working in a range of fields are welcome to apply for these short-term assignments – from the public and the non-profit sectors to business and research organisations.

#EUwomen4future roundtable

Today, Commissioner Gabriel, hosted a roundtable with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and prominent women featured in the #EUWomen4future campaign and a recipient of the EU Prize for Women Innovators. The discussion took stock of EU’s support to their careers and explored what help can be offered to young women and girls in their respective fields. The Commissioner also announced a brand-new social media campaign called #SHEULeads, putting young women in the spotlight.

Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal

The Commission has launched an online monitoring portal to support the implementation of the EU Gender Equality Strategy. The portal aims to facilitate and support the development of policy initiatives that address gender inequality in the EU and enable policymakers and EU citizens to explore EU-wide data on the presence and magnitude of gender inequalities.


The latest She Figures 2021 highlights that, on average, at bachelor’s and master’s levels, women outnumber men as students (54%) and graduates (59%), and there is almost gender balance at doctoral level (48%). However, disparities between study fields persist. For example, women still represent less than a quarter of doctoral graduates in the ICT field (22%), while they represent 60% or more in the fields of health & welfare and education (60% and 67% respectively).

The Women TechEU programme supports women-led deep tech start-ups at the early, riskiest stage of the company’s growth. This pilot offers grants of €75 000 each to support the initial steps in the innovation process, and the growth of the company. It also offers mentoring and coaching under the European Innovation Council (EIC) Women Leadership Programme, and EU-wide networking opportunities.

The European Strategy for Universities will also help boosting gender balance in academic careers and integrate the gender equality dimension in curricula by universities. It will commit the Commission, in cooperation with Member States and stakeholders to:

  • Facilitate the creation of a European framework for diversity and inclusion, including closing the gender gaps.
  • Address the under-representation of women in STEM fields, through a roadmap including a manifesto from STEM-oriented universities on gender-inclusive STE(A)M education.
  • Foster institutional change to achieve gender equality in academia, by encouraging and supporting the implementation of inclusive gender equality plans within higher education institutions.

More Information

Gender equality strategy

European Education Area

Gender equality in research and innovation

EU Prize for Women Innovators

Women TechEU programme

ERA Policy Agenda

Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal

Become an evaluator of EU research projects

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