Gender in Biosciences, seen by the University of Primorska, Slovenia

Editorial Team Gender, RRI


Dr. Elena Buzan – is Head of department for Biodiversity and coordinator of study programme Biodiversity and Nature Conservation at Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologie at University of Primorska. She is also responsible for the societal engagement of UP, for the technology transfer and regulation of policy regarding intellectual property, for promoting gender equality, and for the importance of Open access and ethic knowledge in the bioresearch.

1. How do you understand “Gender” in biosciences research?

I think gender issue is one of the crucial point to solve in Biosciences. Our role as researchers is to limit gender biased messaging. Women should not feel discouraged from pursuing a career in the Biosciences simply because they don’t fit a pre-determined model. A better integration of women after they finished their PhD can only improve science, as with more diversity comes more creative ideas and effective solutions. We need to stop enforcing stereotypical roles and give better support to women with families (especially small children) to continue their scientific carrier.

2. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Gender equality in Primorska University and in Slovenia in general?

Gender equality in Slovenia is slightly above the EU average, according to the EU Gender Equality Index. In spite of progress over time, there are still challenges ahead. Indicators measuring labour activity showed better results for men than for women. Women are poorly represented in the decision-making positions in employee and employer organizations. Slovenia has a fairly generous framework governing women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. At the University of Primorska (UP), we do not have a mechanism to assess gender equality. We are planning to start actions to improve gender equality in the near future.

3. What are you aiming for with the implementation of the STARBIOS2 actions towards better Gender equality for the Department of Biodiversity at the University of Primorska?

In order to understand the gender distribution and role within the University we will try to select the most appropriate methodological approach towards Gender standards. We will especially work to promote a positive image of women in sciences. We would also like to know the role that gender plays in publications, grants and international project within UP.  Most importantly, we are starting a long-term survey to record situations connected with Gender equality.


4. What kind of actions are you going to establish to fulfill your objectives?

We are currently running an online questionnaire to get useful informations about experiences with gender equality and other topics connected with women needs for their research carrier support. This will also include personal interviews at the beginning of academic year. We would like to provide more opportunities for women in science in our events; therefore, we will directly invite them to actively participate in oral presentations and also as key-note speakers.

5. Who is involved, from Primorska University, in the action plan, in order to complete your final objective?

The Biodiversity department of UP FAMNIT is covering all actions. We actively collaborate with other departments. Some other experienced researchers are also part of the team – Vladimir Ivović and myself and the young research assistants Sandra Hasić and Felicita Urzi will carry out most of the research work.