Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund

Call for Applications

Next deadline October 31, 2017

Open call for proposals for activities that increase awareness of the problem and possible solutions. Such proposals can include, but are not limited to, short workshops (for instance, on unconscious bias) and/or seminars (with invited speakers) at your home organization, data collection, publication activities and similar events. It must be clear from the proposal how the activity will improve our knowledge and awareness of unequal opportunities, or how the activity will improve equal opportunities directly, in the ESEB specifically, or Evolutionary Biology as a field in general. There are two calls per year, with the next upcoming deadlines being the 31st of March 2017 and the 31st of October 2017.


  • Applicants must be ESEB members (for becoming a member of ESEB, click here or visit our membership page)
  • Applications can be submitted by scientists at any stage of their professional career (e.g., Masters and PhD students, postdocs, and lecturers).
  • Applicants must provide proof of support of the host institution where the activity should take place (letter from head of department)
  • Applicants must explain explicitly how their activity will improve our knowledge, awareness of unequal opportunities, or how the activity will improve equal opportunities directly, in ESEB specifically, or Evolutionary Biology as a field in general.
  • Applicants must detail which group of people, and how many, will benefit from this activity (for instance, 50 undergraduates, 10 graduate students, 15 faculty members)
  • Budgets should be reasonable (usually not exceeding 1000,- EUR), and detail costs per person (that benefit from this event).


The application should be no more than 3 pages long (excluding CV and support letter) and include:

  • Name of the applicant(s)
  • A proposal of the activity
  • A short summary to be published on the website (100-150 words)
  • A justification of how the activity will improve our knowledge, awareness of unequal opportunities, or how the activity will improve equal opportunities directly, in ESEB specifically, or Evolutionary Biology as a field in general.
  • Which group of people will benefit (students, staff, general public), and how many
  • A detailed, justified budget (including cost per beneficiary)
  • A time schedule
  • CVs of the applicants
  • A letter of support of the host institution’s head of the department

Please submit the application as a single PDF-file by email to Ute Friedrich <office@eseb.org; Subject: EO Fund> at the ESEB Office and take care to limit the size of attachments (total < 10 MB) in any one email.

Successful applications must hand in a report about the activity and including details how funds were spent within 3 months after the event.

March 2017 – Accepted Proposals

Applicants: Elena Casacuberta, Iñaki Ruíz-Trillo (Spain)
Funding provided: 1000 €

Women in Evolution, a gender awareness day at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, Barcelona.

From the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF) we have organized a gender awareness day entitled Women in Evolution. This will be an event for science, deep thinking and debate on gender improvement policies with experts leading on the subject.

Science will be communicated by outstanding women working in different areas of Evolutionary Biology; Angela Nieto,Instituto de Neurociencias, CSIC-UMH, Patricia Beldade, University of Toulouse and Leslea Hlusko, University of California Berkeley. Moreover, Gerling Wallon, Deputy director of EMBO, and Magdalena Skipper, ‎Director of Scientific Communications and Publishing at Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences, will offer their view to better understand how science management and politics work, and help inspire the path on what can be improved to lead a more inclusive and rich science. This IBE organized event, with support from PRBB and ESEB, is open to all surrounding science centers because we believe that it will be of their interest and in the power of spreading initiatives.

Applicant: Hannah Edwards (UK)
Funding provided: 1000 €

A lower number of published papers and reduced visibility of female compared to male scientists contributes to the loss of talented female scientists from senior academic positions. Attaining senior academic positions requires academic success, which is reinforced through a high research profile i.e. publishing high-quality work in good journals and presenting work at international conferences. Reduced visibility has been linked to fewer women than men, accepting invitations to speak at evolutionary biology conferences. However, little is known about publication bias according to gender in evolutionary biology.

The aim of this project is to use the reviewing requests and publication decisions of manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Evolutionary Biology between 2012–2016, to address whether:

  • There is bias in the submission versus acceptance rates in relation to gender/country of affiliation, of authors?
  • Implicit bias occurs among reviewers when editors request reviews?
  • There is bias in members of the editorial board?

Applicant: Zenobia Lewis, Klara Wanelik, Joanne Griffin (UK)
Funding provided: 1000 €

In recent years the academic community has made great progress in addressing the historic underrepresentation of women in STEM subjects. What has received less attention are the minorities identifying with other protected characteristics, such as race/ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. There has been very little discussion with regards the effect of coming from a protected group, despite evidence that this can have a strong effect on the probability of retaining an academic career (e.g. Heward, Taylor & Vickers 1997; Fang et al. 2000; Ng et al. 2005). These protected groups can face a multitude of barriers, including financial worries, and negative perceptions of their own academic career success (Paul 2016). This is not only leading to the loss of talented individuals, but also to the loss of diversity per se which has been shown to promote innovation and productivity in the workplace (recently highlighted in Tachibana 2012).

We recently held a workshop here at the University of Liverpool on breaking (non-gender related) barriers in STEM. The event was extremely well attended and received; one attendee commented: “The event was an important outlet to discuss some of the more personal issues that affect many people in STEM. There has been no other outlet for this purpose, and this event showed just how much we needed one!”

We now wish to further this discussion more widely by writing an open access evidence-based article on some of the challenges faced by scientists that do not come from a ‘traditional’ background, and how some of these challenges can be overcome.

Applicant: Jessica Stapley, Sara Petchey (CH)
Funding provided: 820 €

We will organise an event entitled “Let’s redress the leaky pipeline”, which will feature a seminar from Dr Rhonda Snook, an evolutionary biologist and gender equality champion. Dr Snook adopts a unique perspective to discussing the leaky pipeline by using the evolutionary analogy of the “invisible fraction”, and thus describes the problem of the leaky pipeline in a way that is engaging for Evolutionary biologists at all career stages. The event will also include talks by representatives from ETH Zürich (ETHZ) and University of Zurich (UZH). Following the talks, we will run a workshop on the effectiveness of different measures to counteract the loss of women in academia. Throughout the event, we consider how the sexes can work together to promote gender equality in the workplace. The event provides knowledge exchange between the UK and Switzerland and gender equality training for Evolutionary biology students and researchers of ETHZ and UZH.

September 2016 – Accepted Proposals

Applicant: Marina Papadopoulou (UK)
Funding provided: 1160 €

The last decade, gender imbalances have been noted to persist in the global research output, along with significant inequities in authorship of publications across different disciplines. In this project, we want to analyse the role of gender in the authorship of journals of evolutionary biology. Firstly, we aim to collect data on author’s genders and citations count, searching for gender bias in first­-authorship. In addition, we will estimate the gender ratio in published papers through time, and finally examine the effect of first­-author’s gender on citation impact. Finally, our goal is to create a website (named biaswatchevol.com) based on our database and the results of our analysis, in order to raise awareness of gender bias, and create a common ground for all scientist to work towards gender equality.

Applicants: Gabby Salazar and Sarah Gluszek (UK)
Funding provided: 1000 €

→ Summary: New research has shown that young female scientists face an increased risk of harassment while pursuing fieldwork, above and beyond the inherent risk to fieldwork. Female scientists thus may be discouraged from pursuing further fieldwork or from even staying in the scientific community. We organised two events to increase the capacity of female biologists to stay safe during remote fieldwork at Imperial College’s Silwood Park Campus. Both events were well attended by students and staff members. The first event was a panel discussion focused on issues facing female scientists both in and out of the field. The panel was followed by a self-defence workshop for female students and staff members in the fields of evolutionary biology and ecology.

Applicant: Anna Vinton (US)
Funding provided: 1000 €

Yale University has a strong history of bringing together women of many stages in their career for discussion groups through Women In Science At Yale. Recent surveys suggest even with progress such as this, there still exists a significant gender gap in the field of Evolutionary Biology. The Yale Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department has only a single female faculty member, and few senior female evolutionary biologists in other related departments. Therefore, many Evolutionary Biologists are not reached by current women-only discussions regarding the gender gap. It’s for this reason that we propose to hold a seminar and workshop directed towards males in Evolutionary Biology, designed to bring them up to date on issues of diversity and discuss how to be an effective ally. To quantify the efficiency of this event and share with other institutions, we will survey attendees and produce a document with general steps for how to become an ally to women in Evolutionary Biology.

March 2016 – Accepted Proposals

Applicant: Liliana Ballesteros-Mejia (Brazil)
Funding provided: 1000 €

→ Summary: Despite of some attempts to give equal participation to women in science, there is still a steep imbalance in the representation of women in higher positions within science academia. On September 20th, we carried out a workshop with 100 participants where three successful women professors inspired young scientist with their unique contrasting stories about their life in academia. Afterwards, three discussion groups tackled important topics such as: life-career balance, job and challenges, mobility and career strategies that contributed with specific actions. Finally, we compiled information on rates about women at different career stages from the two major universities in central-west Brazil (Universidade Federal de Goias UFG & Universidad de Brasilia-UnB) to write a paper evaluating the positioning of women in the Brazilian science.

Applicants: Luc F. Bussière (UK), Elizabeth J. Herridge (UK), Kirsty Park (UK)
Funding provided: 1000 €

→ Summary: In monitoring student academic achievement by gender within our department, we had previously found concerning preliminary evidence that female students appeared less likely to achieve a first class degree. This effect was not statistically significant, however, and based on analyses of the final degree class instead of individual module grades. To explore the effects of gender on performance and test potential causes, we analysed the effects of gender on numerical academic achievement within individual modules provided by our department over three academic years. Our database included 101 modules offered from 2013/14 through 2015/16, with between one and twenty module grades for each of 2,233 individual students. We analyzed the effects of gender as well as possible mediating effects of assessment type (coursework or exam), exam weighting, anonymous marking, and academic stage.

Our findings reveal a main effect of gender on performance, but it is inconsistent with the previously suspected pattern: males scored more poorly than females on average (by a modest 1.6%), and this effect did not depend on any other variable in our analysis, as might be expected if the sexes differed in academic development or their response to assessment types. We did find that males tended to vary more in their grades than females did, which was superficially consistent with one hypothesis for gender differences in attainment: that males tend to pursue high-risk but high-reward strategies in academic assessments, resulting in more males at both extremes of the distribution. However, close examination of the distribution of grades reveals that our data do not in fact support this hypothesis as an explanation for a deficiency in first class degrees for women: while the distributions of male and female grades diverge below the first class threshold, they are virtually identical above it (see Figure 1). Our findings suggest that despite the prior evidence, both genders are equally likely to achieve a first class module grade in our unit. We will now follow up on this work by extracting data on lecturer and supervisor gender (which we were unable to incorporate in the current analysis), and explore possible gender differences in dissertation performance, which has an outsized role relative to other modules in determining degree class.

Figure 1: Density histograms illustrating final academic performance in modules (as a percentage) for students in Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Stirling, 2013-2016. The female histogram and smoother are illustrated in red, while males are in blue. A vertical dashed line illustrates the demarcation of first-class performances at 70%. While the histograms diverge below the first class threshold, the smoothing lines are virtually identical above it.

Applicants: Florence Débarre (France), Nicolas Rode (France), Line Ugelvig (Denmark)
Funding provided: 500 €

Although the proportion of women in science, and in evolutionary biology in particular, has dramatically increased over the last century, women remain underrepresented in academia, and even more so at senior levels. In addition, their scientific achievements do not always receive the same level of recognition as do men’s (a phenomenon called “Matilda effect”). Here, we want to quantify the representation of women as invited speakers in conferences, workshops and courses in evolutionary biology, and investigate the influence of the organizers and of potential gender-ratio requirements by funding bodies on the proportion of invited women. Our postulate is that a greater awareness of organizers to the issues faced by women in science, and/or constrains imposed by the funders, will be reflected in the proportion of invited female speakers.