Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund

Call for Applications

Next deadline October 31, 2018

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 deadlines being the 31st of March and the 31st of October.


  • The main applicant must be ESEB member (to become a member of ESEB, please click here or visit our membership page first)
  • Applications can be submitted by scientists at any stage of a professional career (e.g., undergraduate, Masters and PhD students, postdocs, and lecturers).
  • Applicants must provide proof of support of the host institution where the activity should take place, if applicable (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, if more is required, please contact EO committee first), and, if applicable, 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), please indicate the main applicant if appropriate.
  • A proposal of the activity
  • 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
  • A short summary to be published on the website (100-150 words)
  • CVs of the applicants (1-2 pages)
  • 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 Moniatte <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, including details of how funds were spent, within 3 months of the event.

September 2017 – Accepted Proposals

Applicants: Paula Vasconcelos & Ingrid Ahnesjö (SE)
Funding provided: 1000 €

How to handle gendered assumptions in evolutionary biology research

In evolutionary biology research, we often approach questions on males and females differently. Sometimes there may be good reasons for this. However, it may also be an outcome of gender biased assumptions. In this two day workshop we aim to identify and discuss such gender biased assumptions in scientific publications, as a gateway to more deeply analyze the way we make inferences in our scientific reasoning. Furthermore, we aim to constructively put forward guidelines on how we, as scientists, should handle gendered assumptions. Terminology and language use, theoretical as well as empirical research can all carry these gendered assumptions, so by means of this workshop we hope to address some important gaps in evolutionary biology research.

26-27 April 2018 at Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

See also https://genderedassumptions.xyz/

To participate, send an e-mail to Ingrid.Ahnesjo@ebc.uu.se  before the 15th of March 2018 and provide a short motivation letter (150 words). Number of participants is limited to 25.

Applicant: Karine Ranovona, Hava Guerni, and Dusan Misevic (FR)
Funding provided: 950 €

What (not?) to wear: Evolutionary Conference Photo-Booth
Worrying about the superficial issues of appropriate professional attire adds unnecessary
stress, especially for young scientist. “What should I wear?” question is asked in many labs
around conference season, but the answers remain vague and often unhelpful, especially
when it comes to female scientists, who cannot default to a simple “dress shirt + pants”
formula. We propose to directly investigate what scientists wear at conferences and why. We
will set up a “photo booth” at the next big SSE + ESEB meeting (Montpellier 2018) to both
photograph what scientists are wearing and to record their attitudes towards professional
attire. The results will be presented as a photo gallery and questionnaire summary statistical
analysis on a simple website (proposed domain: WhatScientistsWear.org). The action has
potential to broadly fight stereotypes, but also directly provide valuable advice to young
evolutionary scientists.

Applicants: Tugce Bilgin Sonay, Rocio Rama Ballesteros, Ana Claudia Marques, Sarvenaz Choobdar, Yihong Jennifer Tan, Katarina Cisarova, and Reyhan Sonmez (CH)
Funding provided: 900 €

Django Programming Workshop for girls
While coding skills are essential in today’s big data era, informatics technologies are still
strongly male biased. It is therefore key to empower females, especially young girls, to learn
programming. With this in mind we are organizing a one-and-a-half day programming
Django workshop (https://djangogirls.org) based on Python. The workshop is free and
tailored to introduce girls preferably at school age to programming in a friendly and
inclusive environment. Our mission is to inspire more women to consider a career in STEM
by making some of its most ‘daunting’ aspects, programming, accessible. We will use our
experience as evolutionary biologists to illustrate the power of programming to address key
questions in biology and evolution, where computational skills are increasingly relevant.

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 €

Gender differences in authorships are not associated with publication bias in an evolutionary journal

The EO Initiative grant allowed Dr Hannah Edwards to investigate whether there was publication bias according to gender and continent in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (JEB). Conducting implicit bias research in evolutionary biology scholarly publishing is important because a lower number of published papers and reduced visibility of female compared to male scientists contributes to the ‘leaky pipeline’ – the loss of talented female scientists from more senior academic positions.
The research found that female first-authors (the lead role) were six times less likely to be named as the corresponding author than male first-authors, and that female first-authors were more likely to be displaced as corresponding authors by female co-authors than were male first-authors. There was an under-representation of female first- and last-authors compared to baseline populations of members of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) and of Evolutionary Biology faculty at the world top-10 universities for the Life Sciences, respectively. Additionally, manuscripts from Asia were four times more likely to be rejected on the first decision and five times on the final
decision. Overall the results suggest that the peer review process at the Journal of Evolutionary Biology is gender-neutral and not a contributing factor to differences in authorship in this journal, and gender inequality in Evolutionary Biology in general.

This research has resulted in a publication in PLoS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0201725

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 organised an event entitled “Let’s redress the leaky pipeline”, which featured a seminar from Dr Rhonda Snook, an evolutionary biologist and gender equality champion. Dr Snook introduced the problem of the leaky pipeline and discussed the role of unconscious bias in this process. Following Dr Snook’s seminar representatives from ETH Zürich (ETHZ) and University of Zurich (UZH) presented relevant data on the proportion of men and women at academic levels within ETHZ and UZH, and outlined the measures that these Institutions are taking to improve gender equality. Following these talks, we hosted a workshop where participants could share their experience with unconscious bias and explore ideas about how we can reduce the influence of unconscious bias in academia. The event was attended by over 70 participants – ranging from PhD students to Professors from across the life sciences at 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.

The website is available at www.biaswatchevol.com

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 WISAY. Recent surveys suggest even with progress such as this, there still exists a significant gender gap in the field of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Therefore, many Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists are not reached by current women-only discussions regarding the gender gap. It’s for this reason that we held a public seminar and small faculty workshop led by Dr. Chris Kilmartin, an expert in the psychology of masculinity and gender issues, 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. We had high attendance for both events, encouraging us to hold more ally events in the future. We produced a blog outlining some of the main points we took from the events with Dr. Kilmartin https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/if-there-were-no-barriers-to-mens-participation-we-would-all-be-doing-it-a-unique-perspective-on-how-to-be-a-male-ally-to-women-in-ecology/

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.

The results of the analysis are now published: F. Débarre, N. O. Rode, and L. V. Ugelvig “Gender equity at scientific events” (https://doi.org/10.1002/evl3.49)