Welcome Address by H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania at the conference “Structural Change Promoting Gender Equality in Research Organizations”
21 November 2013, Vilnius
Dear Participants of the Conference,
Welcome in Vilnius!
Sciences play a key role in the understanding of the world we live in. Scientists contribute strongly to the economic and cultural development of nations and their welfare.
Throughout long centuries women and science were regarded as incompatible. The academic establishment was convinced that science was just for men.
At first sight it may seem that the problem of gender inequality has already been resolved. However professional gender stereotypes, corruptive promotion are still effective. The actual engagement of women in science and their real academic career opportunities are best revealed by facts and figures.
In the European Union, forty five percent of doctoral degrees are conferred to women. Only one-third of women are actively involved in science and research. Women comprise one-fifth of all professors. The balanced representation of women and men in all fields of research is needed for the enhancement of European competiveness and full realization of the European innovation potential.
Although the participation of women in sciences shows a steady increase in many world countries, it is still somewhat difficult for them to gain an appropriate status in academia. This is because of academic and cultural stereotypes, the traditional perception of women's role in society, the psychological and social environment - which do not encourage women to choose a profession in the male dominated and managed world of science. Positive changes are evident but there is a lot to be done to ensure equal opportunities for both women and men in the academic environment and its management.
If we want to build a strong and competitive Europe, structural changes are needed to promote gender equality in all research areas.
We must ensure that all can participate - on equal terms - in creating a modern society.
So - men and women - let us share both experiences and responsibilities. Let us support and celebrate each other's achievements. Let us build the future of Europe together.
I wish you an interesting and fruitful conference!