Gender equality

COST is fully committed to promoting gender equality and supporting both talented women and men in research and innovation. The COST Excellence and Inclusiveness Policy strongly encourages gender balance of research networks, as well as the take up of leadership positions by (young) women COST Action participants. As such, COST aims to ensure equal opportunities and gender-friendly career advancement.

Advancing gender equality in research and innovation is a key objective of the European Union’s gender equality policy. Across Europe the numbers have increased over the last years (women are indeed a majority among PhD graduates), however, only a third of women are scientists, a phenomenon especially visible in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) where women are even less represented.

State of play of women representation in COST Actions*:
  • COST Actions have an average of 49% women representation
  • 52% of researchers in COST Action leadership positions are women
  • 39% of Action Chairs and 57% of Action Vice-Chairs are women
  • 55% of the total young participants in COST Actions are women
  • 57% of ITC participants in COST Actions are women

*June 2023

Illustration of different head profiles showing different people of ages, races, and genders

Gender Equality Plan

The COST Association has developed Gender Equality Plan (GEP) focused on advancing gender equality in all COST activities, with a specific focus on the COST Actions.

The aim is to promote an inclusive culture and enshrine the need to include a gender dimension in all activities. The GEP is a living document, allowing for details to be developed, adjusted, and updated over time, thereby increasing its long-term impact.

COST community for gender equality

COST Action participants with an interest and/or role in gender equality are invited to join the recently established online COST community for gender equality on Basecamp. Offering a virtual space for COST Actions to exchange good practices, experiences, and to ask questions, Basecamp is an ideal tool for COST Action participants looking to find out more or better promote gender equality in their Actions. 

Those interested in joining the community are invited to contact Policy Officer Judith Litjens.

Conversations Unscripted

Conversations Unscripted is a multistakeholder initiative that brings together European leaders to explore avenues to reduce the gender gap in the fields of politics and technology. Through this platform we aim to address the challenges that women face in Europe in forging careers in politics and technology. By bringing together stakeholders committed to achieving greater gender equality and advocating for further empowerment of women in Europe, we aim to create an ecosystem that will enable open conversations on gender equality, storytelling, and personal growth and to identify potential solutions to bridge the gender gap in these key fields.

The text "Conversations Unscripted" above the logos of the following implementing partners: Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, Women in Tech, Women4Cyber, the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), The Womenpreneur Initiative, Microsoft, and COST.

The initiative kicked-off with the flagship event ‘Minding the Gap: increasing women participation in policy and technology in Europe‘ on 12 October 2022 with a dedicated session on ‘Women in Quantum’ by COST Action Nanoscale Quantum Optics.


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