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07 Nov

2 min read
Women in Fusion took part in the Big Science Business Forum

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On October 4th 2022, the “Women in Big Science” event took place in Granada, Spain, as part of the “Big Science Business Forum 2022” business congress. The event started with a poster exhibition where representatives of companies and organizations explained their posters and shared experiences on common issues, successful measures, available tools, etc. The poster session was followed by the round table discussion “How is Big Science contributing to gender equality” where attendees discussed what is being done to improve gender diversity and ensure the visibility of women in Big Science Projects.

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We spoke to Francesca Fantini, representing the F4E organizing Team, of the “Women in Big Science” event, and to Gabriella Saibene, the Treasurer of the Women in Fusion, who attended the event and presented there our poster, to know their impressions of the event.

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Francesca Fantini, representing the F4E organizing Team of the “Women in Big Science” event

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What was the overall goal of the “Women in Big Science event” as part of the BSBF 2022 Forum?

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The goal of the event was to provide a platform where to discuss opportunities to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices for improving the participation of women in Big Science projects and in innovation. Participation of women in the big science Projects is traditionally low, so we have been thinking on how to address this issue. We considered that the solution was to create exchanges where different organizations, public and industry, could meet and discuss ideas on how to improve participation of women. We proposed this idea to BSBF organizers, and they agreed and supported the introduction of this “social dimension” to the event. The Big Science Business Forum was delayed due to the pandemic, so we were happy to hold an in-person event this year.

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What do you think is the main outcome of the event? What did you like the most?

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A very interesting part for me was the networking part. For the round table, we had great speakers representing the Big Science and innovation community, who presented their experiences on gender equality, and shared what actions are already being done to support DEI policies and what actions and tools need to be developed as a priority, as for example the introduction in public procurement of the gender parameter.

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How many organizations and institutions did participate in this event? Will any statistics be published?

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There were more than 180 people registered for the event and posters participating in the Award from 13 organizations. The Women in Big Science Recognition Award prize the efforts of companies and organizations in improving gender equality at different levels. We also organized a preparatory webinar in February where more than 250 people registered.

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The Award foresees different levels: 1) Advances in Organizational Culture an internal aspect – what is being done by companies, and Big Science institutions to enable participation of women in scientific projects; b) Collaborative Partnerships collaboration between two entities to improve gender dimension; c) Societal Impact recognizes achievements that combine possible impact on society.

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The posters were evaluated depending on what they represented and the level of organization. Our idea was not to make a competition between organizations but rather to provide organizations a recognition of the progress they achieved.

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What are your plans? Would you like to run similar events?

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Our idea is to continue organizing events for women as part of the “Big Science Business Forum” event held regularly. The next editions will take place in two years, we will work to be there, and we hope to increase the number of posters submitted.

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Gabriella Saibene, the Treasurer of the Women in Fusion

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From right to left: Gabriella Saibene, the Treasurer of the Women in Fusion, and Maria Faury, Director of international affairs and large research infrastructures, CEA and Chair of the Administrative and Management Committee at Fusion for Energy

Why did the “Women in Fusion” group decide to participate in the BSBF Forum? What was its goal?

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WiF is new, so we are seeking ways to promote it. We thought the BSBF 2022 could be a good platform to, first, make WiF known as an initiative to support women in the fusion field, and second, to meet with people from other organizations who are involved in gender equality, inclusion and diversity, and see what they do, what issues they face and what ideas they have.

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What are the main outcomes and findings from the “Women in Big Science” event? What are your impressions?

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We became more knowledgeable and aware of the common issues in DEI for women in big science. We were also delighted that many people were interested in our poster and in our group – they were asking many questions about our plans and strategy. One particular thing people liked about WiF is that we aim at providing networking opportunities and raise awareness of the common issues women in fusion face.

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What are your plans for future events?

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What we should do now is to study deeper other posters presented at this event in order to understand better other projects and then contact people for establishing collaboration. WiF is growing, and we are developing solutions on how to support and promote women in fusion research and technology. We are also reaching out to connect with women and groups around the world who address the same issues so we can work together. So, we hope that at the next edition of the BSBF we will already present particular actions we took and the results we achieved.

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“Women in Fusion” was excited to participate in the “Big Science Business Forum 2022”, and we are already preparing for more events to connect to more organizations and institutions involved in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion framework. Stay tuned!

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