EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

European Research Council (ERC) success rates of men and women in the geosciences

Claudia Alves de Jesus Rydin, Luis Farina Busto, and Alexis-Michel Mugabushaka
Claudia Alves de Jesus Rydin et al.
  • European Research Council (ERC), Scientific Department, Brussels, Belgium (

The European Research Council (ERC), Europe’s premiere funding agency for frontier research, views equality of opportunities as an essential priority. The ERC monitors closely various demographic data yearly on every call and has taken actions to tackle imbalances and potential implicit and explicit biases.

The ERC poster is focused on demographic geosciences data for the three main funding schemes: Starting Grant, Consolidator Grant and Advanced Grant. The data of the ERC population is expressed statistically, with focus on gender and geographic location.

Success rates of geosciences applicants by gender are compared to the both success rates from other fields of science at the ERC and other funding organisations in Europe.

Recent initiatives at the ERC to tackle imbalances are also presented.

How to cite: Alves de Jesus Rydin, C., Farina Busto, L., and Mugabushaka, A.-M.: European Research Council (ERC) success rates of men and women in the geosciences, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13968,, 2020

Comments on the presentation

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Presentation version 1 – uploaded on 02 May 2020
  • CC1: widening, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 02 May 2020

    Thank you for the presentation.

    I would like to know more on widening, as I had a discussion on this on prevalence of the West. In my oppinion the graphics speak for themselves, but I would like to know your interpretation.

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Claudia Jesus-Rydin, 02 May 2020

      Thank you for the comment. The biggest challenge is not in terms of sucecss rates. Our biggest challenge is to attract higher submission rates from EU13 countries (i.e. Central and Eastern Europe). We have the same challenge as regards to women in our most senior funding scheme (Advanced Grant). 

      We have taken several actions, but do welcome a fresh look and feedback from all stakeholders.

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 02 May 2020

        Well, since at the end also to Liviu Matenco, whom I was mentioning, I replied with my own experience, I must say that I did not apply for the ERC. First I was looking forward to apply because of course there was some discussion that people in Romania do not (but there are who do, if one looks at least at the former ERClike competitions of the national funding agency, which funds good projects which do not get funded by ERC). Also I know two women researchers from Eastern Europe with really good CVs (many projects and awards won) who did not get it, although at least in one case I think it was because her research for which she did the projects was too applied. So I could not wait until I have 2 years since doctorate as I wasn't so young anymore. But then I became afraid. I started a doctorate in Germany and although I've submitted it, I never was sheduled for public defense. Then I went on Marie Curie individual fellowship to Italy (where I've been also during doctorate with MC) as I had a good CV with 3 now ISI Q2 articles single author at 4 years experience (but although the doctorate rules said the thesis, which was nevertheless written, can be replaced by 2 articles single author, the doctoral father wanted 5, which on the subject I don't have till now) and one year later withdrew the thesis (I was promissed so I can defend it in Hungary, but it did not happen). After the MC I returned with an MC reintegration grant to Romania and one year after (so 4 1/2 years after submission in Germany) I started new in Romania, on a related topic though, but not the same, as in Romania people were not interested in Germany, but in Italy, so I basically used what I've done during the MCs (which was building on that research). Then in Romania I finished in time indeed. But when being with a postdoc in Italy and visiting Ca Foscari, which is really a champion in MSCA, I was told that any evaluator who sees that I went from difficult (Karlsruhe) to easy (Bucharest) will not award me. So I became afraid and in the meantime I felt out of the starting grant. I am writing this because I was at several ERC courses, also at MSCA meetings, and we were encouraged. At the MSCA during the Romanian presidency there was a female Romania ERC speaking. But also the University of Bucharest, where there is an awardee (male), teaches such courses. So one doesn't necessarily have to go to Vienna (either at the EGU or there are other courses as well, specially for Eastern Europe) to learn. But do one need courses?

        Another challenge is to keep more people in Italy ;) I recall that while I was there (2015-16) the only incoming ERC fellow was a Romanian, and the situation looked rather like in your graphics with many leaving Italy.

  • CC3: Comment on EGU2020-13968, Frances Dunn, 06 May 2020

    Thanks for a great display and lively session!

    Many of the displays, not just yours, show that the issue with gender parity in awardees actually results from not getting a good balance in applicants. My comment in the session chat on the wording of applications ("outstanding", "brilliance", "top 10% of researchers") was meant to highlight a common feeling I've heard among early career women that they don't feel that many grants/awards are aimed at them, which discourages them from applying.

    It may be that women are pessimistic and men optimistic about their chances which leads to the discrepancy in applications, as people don't want to spend time on activities which they perceive as having lower potential for reward. I don't know why a difference between men and women would exist here, but there were some interesting comments in the chat about cultural socialisation of girls and that they don't associate themselves with words like "brilliance".

    You are absolutely right that you can't get awards you don't apply for, so we as a community really need to understand and correct this disparity in applicants.

  • CC4: Comment on EGU2020-13968, Lucie Tajcmanova, 06 May 2020

    Dear Claudia,

    i was wondering if there is a comparison of the age and gender of the applicants for the advanced grants. the general feeling about this scheme (in earth sciences) is that you need to retire first or be close to retiremnt to get the grant (althought the official descritpion of the scheme does not sepcifically say that). and of course if that is the case, i can imagine that the number of women in "higher" age category might be lower compared to women beween 40-50 years old (because there where just simply less female scientists?). maybe, those 40-50 years old women after all the efforts of getting permanent positions and kids etc. finally settle and would consider to apply for an ERC grant but then they check who gets it and do not have the confidence. i hear this very often (not only my doubts). so that is why i am asking if there is a comparison of a success of people between 40-50 years old to get an ERC grant in Earth science panel (it would be also interesting to compare to the other panels though)  and what is the proportion of women in that range compared to the range, say, 55-70 years old. there might a be a gap?

    all the best


    • AC2: Reply to CC4, Claudia Jesus-Rydin, 07 May 2020

      You are raising a very interesting point. Just from my observations, I I believe that we are seeing some increase in diversity in applicants to Advanced Grant - this is the first step, in my opinion. 

      We do have the Advanced Grant scheme age distribution data but aggregated by all scientific areas (i.e. I have not done it for PE10 only, yet). That is indeed something that I will make sure to work on in the future. As soon as it is done, I will make sure to make it public.

      Again, many thanks for raising this interesting point!