International Women in Science Conference
National Council of Research - CNR
The National Council of Research (CNR) is the main public research institution in Italy and operates through a network of 107 institutes distributed all over the country, whose activities cover a wide range of sectors, from humanities to hard technological sciences. The research personnel amounts, at present, to 3660 persons (38% women), distributed over three levels. Women are 18% of the top level and 45% of the starting level people.
In 1999, the CNR set up, according to the Italian civil servants work contract, the Equal Opportunities Committee (Comitato Pari Opportunità, CPO). This board promotes gender equality in the work environment by means of education and dissemination of "positive actions". Each year it upgrades the "positive actions plan" that is part of the triennial program of the CNR.
In 1999, few senior female scientists wrote a letter of protest to the president of CNR following his nomination of an all male Scientific Advisory Committee. As a consequence, the then president of the CNR set up a commission specifically devoted to the women in science issue called "Commissione di studio per la valorizzazione della componente femminile nel campo della ricerca scientifica e tecnologica". Beside other general activities of information and training, this commission organised four national conferences at the CNR head office in Rome, from the years 1999 to 2001. Moreover, a book (Figlie di Minerva), on the presence of women in the main public institutions of research in Italy, has been published.
These are some of the experiences performed up to now by and at CNR. In the last 5 years CNR has undergone a deep and very debated reform which has not positively influenced the activities on the "Women in Science" issue. Nevertheless several initiatives have been pursued by CPO and, inter alia, by the association Donne e Scienza; more recently also a self-appointed working committee is trying to rise the gender issue in view of the incoming new reform of CNR.