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Women in Big Science Business Forum (WBSBF)


Friday, 19 April 12:30-14:00

Harnessing the potential of big science projects to advance gender equality


In February 2022, the WBSBF Organisers hosted a webinar attended by more than 200 people, to explore how organisations in big science projects can attract and retain women. The aim of the webinar, apart from exchanging good practice, was to gain feedback on the design of the award promoting the role of Women in Big Science Projects, to be handed out during the Big Science Business Forum (BSBF) 2022 in Granada, Spain.

Several organisations participating in BSBF, applying to WSBF Award, had the opportunity to present their action plan, and to showcase specific measures they developed to recruit, retain, and promote more women in their workforce. The BSBF in Granada also hosted a plenary WBSBF Forum session, to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of actions to promote career opportunities in big science for women.

For the BSBF 2024 event in Trieste, the WBSBF Organisers are preparing a WBSBF programme of activities under the theme “Big Science Projects: an opportunity for policy makers to foster inclusion and gender balance”. This theme reflects current EU’s concerns such as i) socially responsible and gender sensitive public procurement practice; ii) gender mainstreaming into all policies and programmes; and iii) socio-economic impact of investment in big science.

The plan for the WBSBF 2024 programme is to prepare the second edition of the WBSBF Awards; introduce a new WBSBF training scheme; and organise a high-level round table session on the chosen topic of “Big Science Projects: an opportunity for policy makers to foster inclusion and gender balance”. This session will be streamed live beyond the BSBF venue to reach out to the widest possible audience.

Launching the WBSBF 2024 programme

To prepare the WSBF 2024 programme, the WBSBF Organisers will host a second webinar on 23rd February to engage with different stakeholders in the big science projects ecosystem to reflect on the lessons learnt from Granada; explore capacity and opportunities to advance gender equality in big science projects; launch a new WBSBF Training scheme.


Louise Carvalho
Legal Adviser/D&I Programme Leader, CERN
Francesca Primas
Full Astronomer (ESO) and Coordinator of "Accessibility, equal opportunities and diversity" within the H2020 OPTICON-RadioNet Pilot Project (ORP)
Thomas Berghöfer
Senior Researcher, DESY
& “Coordinator of GENERA Network"
Meike Flammer
Lawyer and Diversity Officer, European XFEL
Monique Gómez
Chair Gender Equality Commission, IAC


Start 12.30 pm CET

The webinar will last around 90 min and will be organised in three parts.

In Part I, the WBSBF Organisers will welcome the participants and report on the lessons learnt from Granada about the current state of gender equality best practice in big science organisations. This will be followed by reflections by the organisations that were successful in Granada on the impact of the Award scheme.

In Part II, representatives of some of the organisations participating in the first edition of the WBSBF Award will share observations from their involvement in big science projects on the opportunities to further advance gender equality, and the key challenges to making progress.

In Part III, the WBSBF 2024 Organisers will introduce a new WSBF Training Scheme aimed to provide access to in-house professional training opportunities for groups of students and recent graduates.

Introduction: Sharing experience and lessons from Granada (35 min)

In this part, the WBSBF organising team will provide a brief overview of the measures and actions reported by BSBF organisations in their submissions to the first edition of the Award scheme in 2022. This will be followed by reflections from 3-4 selected organisations, from public and private sectors, who received the WBSBF Award in Granada. They will share thoughts on the impact of the Award and any new measures that have been introduced in their organisation since then. The main novelties of the Trieste edition of the Awards compared with the Granada Award will be also presented.

Core discussion: Harnessing the potential of big science projects to advance gender equality (45 min)

The aim of the consultation in this part is to explore how to harness the potential of big science projects (as opposed to single organisations) to advance gender equality across the big science ecosystem of collaborative partnerships. These opportunities may arise by sharing gender sensitive best practice in different areas such as procurement, outreach, knowledge transfer, recruitment, or the creation of teams. Examples will be provided by 3-4 selected organisations drawing on their experience in addressing the chances and challenges of taking the action. Apart from collecting comments from the participants during the webinar, the WBSBF Organisers will create an on-line ‘survey’ to collect further suggestions and examples that will supplement the discussion and help better inform the design of the WBSBF 2024 round-table session in Trieste.

Call for interest in the WBSBF Training Scheme (10-min)

In this part, the F4E working group will present the new WBSBF training scheme by explaining the rationale, structure, and criteria to apply to this scheme. The team will introduce the outline plan as a unique opportunity for host organisations to use and add value to their in-house training resources by promoting big science as a career destination for students and recent graduates.

Concluding remarks: final thoughts and next steps (5 min)