Diversity and inclusiveness

SAPEA has a dedicated strategy of diversity and inclusiveness. This applies to all our work.

We focus particularly on maintaining and improving the diversity of experts who join our working groups from across Europe. In the period from 2016 to 2022, we drew on the scientific expertise of:

Members of our working groups are chosen for their scientific excellence and the relevance of their expertise for the topic we are working on. Excellence and expertise are always the main criteria. But we recognise that improving diversity also improves scientific quality, as well as being an important objective in its own right.

Academic discipline

Graph showing disciplinary diversity in SAPEA working groups

 We ensure that each working group has the full range of interdisciplinary expertise necessary to cover the scope of the topic we have been asked to work on. Depending on the topic, this can include experts from natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical, health, agricultural and social sciences, and the humanities.

Gender representation

Gender diversity

Across all our working groups, we have targets for gender representation. In 2016–2022, we focused particularly on the participation of women, with a target of 30%. In fact, 38% of working group members were female, drawing from a pool of nominations in which 31% were female.

For the period 2022–2024, we raised this target to 40% and we set a target of not more than 60% of any one gender across our working groups.

Early- and mid-career researchers

Early career researchers

We prioritise including early- and mid-career researchers in our working groups.

From 2018–2022, we had a mechanism in place to allow nominations from Europe’s young academies and the Global Young Academy. This was initially organised by the Young Academy of Europe and then, from 2021, by the Young Academies Science Advice Structure (YASAS), which was newly developed specifically to work with SAPEA. This resulted in 64% of our working groups including at least one expert nominated in this way (totalling 6% of experts across all working groups).

In May 2022, YASAS became a full partner network in SAPEA. We are now developing a strategy to involve even more early- and mid-career researchers in our activities.

Geographical representation

Geographical diversity

Our experts are drawn almost entirely from Europe: from 2016–2022, 98% of working group members worked in Europe. (‘Europe’ here means the 46 countries covered by the Council of Europe, plus Israel, which is an observer. Russia was also a member, and Belarus was an observer, until March 2022.)

From 2016–2022, we received nominations for experts working in 40 different countries in Europe and 10 beyond. This resulted in working group members working in 26 different countries in Europe and 3 beyond.

We regularly monitor the representation of each country in our working groups. Where we notice that a particular country is becoming under- or overrepresented, we take measures to address this, such as providing further guidance for selection committees or approaching individual academies to support them in the nomination process.

We are particularly keen to ensure balanced representation of researchers from EU13 (‘widening’) countries. From 2016 to 2022, 11% of our experts were from these countries. The accompanying graphs show two other data points, for context: the share of European researchers working in EU13 countries (15%), and the share of Horizon 2020 research funding taken up by EU13 countries (5%).

Unfortunately, there is no robust way to calculate what a ‘balanced representation’ would look like, because directly comparable data does not exist. Furthermore, the scientific expertise required for our topics is not equally distributed across all countries. Nonetheless, we will continue to closely monitor geographical representation, especially using the new Horizon Europe definition of ‘widening’ countries.

Experts who are not members of academies

Academy fellows graph

We always want the best independent experts. This is why the responsibility for nominating experts lies with our academies and Academy Networks.

But each expert is nominated purely on the basis of his or her expertise, not academy membership. So an expert does not have to be a member of an academy in order to join our working groups.

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