The NCCR Microbiomes Strategy for Equal Opportunities organises our efforts in this domain along three axes: an inclusive work culture, support of work-life and work-family balance, and specific efforts in fostering gender equality. All three areas have developed according to the objectives stated in the strategy, however, training to raise awareness in unconscious and implicit bias is still at an internal discussion stage.

Inclusive Work Culture

  • Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are encouraged to express their viewpoint and take a leading role in general, and in multiple specific NCCR activities such as NCCR Unseminars, Workshops, Clubs, and the Swiss Microbiomes Forum. PhD students also co-organised NCCR Retreats: Open Science Meeting and Retreat 2022, Retreat 2023 in planning
  • Space for young scientists to take initiative: Online fora (e.g., Slack channels) reserved for students and postdocs, career lunch talks only for junior scientists
  • First questions at NCCR seminars reserved for PhD students and postdocs, with the option to submit questions in writing
  • At NCCR meetings, small discussion groups mix senior and junior
  • The NCCR Microbiomes is a safe space for members of any gender identity, origin, religion, sexual orientation or physical ability. The Management Team welcomes all new members and informs them that the team:
    • is available for any question, concern or feedback regarding inclusivity
    • can act as a first contact point for young students and postdocs in case of conflicts
    • will set up a consultation booth and an anonymous suggestion box at the NCCR Annual Meeting to gather suggestions from the community and listen to any issues that might have appeared in the first three year
  • A code of conduct for NCCR-organised meetings has been developed
  • Journal names are avoided in our internal and external communications, in order to discourage an impact-factor-centered culture

Promote and Enable Work-Life and Work-Family Balance

  • Organise activities and events in an inclusive manner:
    • needs of members with reduced mobility are always taken into account
    • customised solutions are provided for NCCR members with family-related needs (e.g., childcare support, breastfeeding facilities, or single rooms for pregnant women)
  • NCCR meetings and seminars are organised during usual working hours so as not to interfere with family obligations, and in hybrid format to allow remote participation
  • Flexibility Grants: three applications have been supported (two female, one male), all three granted

Gender Equality

  • Attain gender equality in hiring: increase from 25 to 33% female PIs between 2020 and 2023; 45% of junior scientists are women.
  • Support research career development of the NCCR community, with an emphasis on women:
    • lunch career talks
    • informal discussions with external seminar presenters about their academic careers
    • information and encouragement to join networks such as feminno or the Réseau Romand de Mentoring pour Femmes)
  • Aim for gender parity among invited speakers (so far, ca. 43% of presenters at internal and external seminars, career lunch presentations, and keynote and short talks at internal meetings were women)
  • Promote visibility of NCCR women scientists: if we receive external requests for experts or speakers, we make sure at least 50% of our suggestions are women
  • Ongoing collaborations with the equality offices of the host institutions
  • Collaboration with external programs promoting gender equality in research
  • Participation in initiatives to encourage schoolgirls to pursue scientific careers, for example, #NCCRWomen
  • Participation in initiatives to encourage schoolgirls to pursue scientific careers, for example, Journée Osez Tous les Métiers (every November, across Switzerland)
    • Aim: to break gender stereotypes associated to specific professions
    • Schoolchildren grades 7 – 9 (12 – 15 years old) accompany parents or friends to work or participate in events organised by companies and institutions
    • Workshops organised by Schaerli lab in 2021 and 2022, topic ‘Discover microbes’
    • 30 participants over the two years