Newsletter - December 2012, Issue 3


Women In Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) in the Mediterranean Basin
>> Research on Gender Equality Policies in Science
>> Advancing Gender and Science in Egypt: Outcomes of the Task Force Meetings

Upheavals can pave the way to restoration

International Cooperation Projects and Events
Nadia Gaar Nada
Literature, Algeria

Mary Kaileh
Biology, Palestine

Rachel Hobeika
Mathematics, Lebanon

by Maria Caprile, CIREM, Spain

This third issue of our SHEMERA e-newsletter is launched when the project has been running for eighteen months. We are now half way through the project. In this period, all the scientific work packages have been launched: we started with the collection of statistical data on gender and science; later on, we launched the analysis of policies on gender equality in science as well as the analysis of research on women’s and men’s scientific careers. Research is now mainly focused at the national level. In all the Southern Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia) national experts are working along these lines in order to collect and analyse national data.
Parallel to this research work, national experts are also involved in dissemination and networking activities, namely the preparation of a national workshop in each country in order to present the results of our project and discuss its policy implications. The national workshops will be addressed to institutional policy-decision makers in the field of science, representatives of scientific institutions and associations of women in science. These national workshops will  provide an opportunity to discuss the situation in each country, to learn about the situation in other neighbouring countries, and to discuss policy recommendations.
The next step will be the comparative analysis. On the basis of the results of the research work at the national level, the project will generate state of the art descriptions and comparative analysis on gender and science in all the countries involved, focusing on three key themes: statistics on gender and science, gender equality policies in science, and research on gender inequalities in scientific careers.



CIREM – Fundació Centre d’Iniciatives i Recerques Europees a la Mediterrània, Spain
ULB – Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
TETALAP – Hungarian Science and Technology Foundation, Hungary
EKT/NHRF – National Documentation Centre / National Hellenic Research Foundation, Greece
ITU – Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, Turkey
IDIS – Fondazione IDIS - Città della Scienza, Italy
AARC – Arab and African Research Centre, Egypt
ASRT – Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
CIDDEF – Association culturelle M’Barek Ait Menguelet, Algeria
AU – Alexandria University, Egypt
WSC – University of Jordan, Jordan
RSS – Royal Scientific Society, Jordan
USJ – Université Saint-Joseph, Lebanon
UH2MC – Université Hassan II, Mohammedia-Casablanca, Morocco
IWS – Birzeit University, Palestinian-administered areas
ALEPPO – Aleppo University, Syrian Arab Republic
FSB – Université de Carthage, Tunisia

Women In Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) in the Mediterranean Basin
by Mine G. Tan, Gulsunm Saglamer, Ozge Atalay Celik. Center for Women Studies in SET - Istanbul Technical University- Turkey 

The role of women in science emerged as a major policy concern in the late 1990s at the European level. The purpose was to promote equality of women and men in science as an essential condition for building ERA. Gender-Watch-System (1998-2002, FP5) Helsinki Group on Women and Science (1999), Science and Society Action Plan (2002-2006, FP6) were the following important developments.
The negative stigmatizing effect of “women-only” promotion schemes does not figure anymore as prominently as in earlier publications. Direct positive measures such as women’s quotas for full professorship or earmarked stipends for female candidates etc. often are disqualified as inferring with neutrality and meritocracy of science.
In this paper we focus on nine EU countries in the Mediterranean basin together with one accession country. These countries are Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. The reason for the selection of the Mediterranean Basin as the study area is that they demonstrate similarities in terms of historical, cultural, geographical feature.[1]

2.1  Horizontal Segregation in Research Careers
For the purposes of the study, Horizontal segregation in research careers is understood as the issue of occupational choices by women and men. Proportions of female researchers varying between 26% and 44% in the ten countries concerned (See Figure 1) have not yet reached equality with those of men.

Figure 1. Proportion of female researchers (She Figures, 2009:28)

The proportions of the female researchers in a country tell, however, only one side of the story. The other side concerns the numbers of these female researchers. In the Mediterranean research area as elsewhere the impact of female researchers is related to the bulk of the female researchers in the pool. How big the share each Mediterranean country has in this pool is must also be taken into consideration.
Proportions of the female researchers by sector in these countries are presented in Figure 2 which shows similar patterns of participation for most of them.

Descrizione: Figure 2

Figure 2. Proportion of female researchers by sector, 2006 (She Figures, 2009:31)

The compound annual growth rate in the number of female researchers in the higher education sector has been stronger than that of men over the period 2002-2006 in most of these countries.[2] There seems to be some move towards a more gender-balanced research population in higher education. The government sector puts forth a very similar pattern women’s presence has been strengthening over recent years in the majority of countries. In the business enterprise sector, where the proportion of female researchers is  lower than that of men in all the countries, the compound annual growth rate of the number of female researchers has been stronger than that of men over the period 2002-2006 in Spain, Greece, Italy and Malta. In these countries, there thus seems to be some move towards greater equality in this sector. In Croatia, male and female researchers have been growing at an equal pace. In Turkey, France, Slovenia, Cyprus, Portugal the inverse holds true thus pointing towards a widening over time of the gender imbalance in the research population of the private sector (She Figures 2009, p. 23).
Figure 3 representing the proportion of female researchers in the Higher Education Sector by field of science shows that there is a significant degree of segregation in terms of fields of study.
A more balanced distribution, however, by gender appear to be in Spain and Turkey.  Malta and Slovenia on the other hand show the least even distribution.
Dissimilarity Index for researchers in higher education sector supports this observation as the index values for Spain (0.03) and Turkey (0.10) are the lowest in this group of countries whereas they are the highest for Slovenia with 0.25 and for Malta with 0.20 (She Figures 2009, p. 64).

Figure 3. Evolution of the proportion of female researchers in the higher education sector by field of science, 2006 (She Figures, 2009: 57)

Again there are many cross-country differences in the relative importance of horizontal segregation in each of the fields of science.
After summarizing the present distribution of female researchers in the HE sector there is a need to look at the trends in different study fields of each country to be able to estimate the future developments. Compound Annual Growth Rate of female in HE sector by field of science provides us the necessary information about trends. The highest growth rates in natural sciences between 2002-2006 were recorded for Cyprus (22.2%) and Malta (18.5%). The calculations were, however, probably overestimated due to the small numbers of female researchers in this field. Spain, on the other hand, which has a  female representation of 39% in natural sciences showed -9.1% compound annual growth rate of female researchers in this field (She Figures, 2009: 56, Table 2.4)  Despite the fact that Croatia has a 42% female representation in natural sciences it also showed a compound annual growth rate of -2.6% in the same period. Individual cases in each sector and country, therefore, await to be analyzed for the formulation of the policy proposals for the future planning.
In the field of engineering and technology all the countries of this group had increased annual growth rates of women researchers although ranging widely from 0.1 % for Croatia to 36.8% again for Cyprus. When evaluated together with the compound annual growth rates of PhD (ISCED6) graduates by narrow field of study which are higher for women in the majority of these countries (She Figures 2009, p. 53) these figures indicate that women are catching up with men in this field.

2.2  Vertical Segregation In Research Careers
Vertical segregation in research careers covers the barriers for women to reach top scientific positions ("glass ceiling" or "sticky floor"). The academic career of women happens to be widely marked by the vertical segregation with declining proportions along the academic ladder. From the She Figures 2009 (p.73,74) demonstrating for EU 27 proportions of male and female students and staff in a typical academic career and in science and engineering following observations are made:
There are more women (55%) than men entering tertiary education and graduating (59%).When it comes to the PhD level, men’s proportions outnumber those of women among the students (52%) and the graduates (55%) as well as Grade A,B,C positions.  At Grade A which represents the highest grade/post at which research is normally conducted males dominate with 82%. This figure clearly bears witness of the existence of a glass ceiling composed of difficultly identifiable obstacles that hold women back from accessing the highest positions in the hierarchy (Meulders,,2010:43).

Figure 4. Proportions of men and women in a typical academic career, students and academic staff, EU-27, 2002/2007 (She Figures, 2009: 74)

Figure 5. Proportion of women in grade A academic position, 2002/2007 (She Figures, 2009: 76)

In terms of  representation in  Grade A academic positions women clearly constitute a minority in the countries of the Mediterranean basin, too. There are, however, great variations among them ranging from 2% for Malta to 28 % for Turkey.

Figure 6. Glass ceiling index, 2004/2007 (She Figures, 2009:78)

The Glass Ceiling Index (GCI) is an important indicator of vertical segregation. It illustrates the difficulties women have in reaching the highest levels of the hierarchy and measures their relative probability, as compared with men, of getting to a top position. The lower is the Index value, better is the gender balance (Figure 7). The scissors’ process (Figure 8) which is observed in most of the Mediterranean countries is in accord with the one observed in EU27 but it does not apply in the case of Malta and Cyprus. How the fluctuation present in these two countries can be explained is unclear at this point.

Figure 7. Proportion of female academic staff by grade and total, 2007 (She Figures, 2009:75)

In the Mediterranean area even for the countries where women enter the academic labor force in higher proportions than men leaky pipeline phenomenon is observed. When we examine  Figure 4  the difference observed between Grade D and Grade A female academic staff percentages is 19 for Turkey, 20 for Cyprus, 23 for France and Malta, 26 for Italy, 27 for Croatia, 28 for Slovenia and Greece, 29 for Portugal, 34 for Spain.
One of the most striking indicators of vertical segregation in Higher Education institutions is the under-representation of women in the top levels of the academic hierarchy and among the members of executive bodies of science policy. The composition of the decision making committees and leadership positions are mainly dominated by men. On average throughout the EU-27, only 13% of institutions in the higher education sector are headed by women in 2007. Among the Mediterranean countries Italy (20%) and Greece (19%) show the highest proportion of women in such leading positions whereas Turkey (9%), Croatia (13%) and Cyprus (14%) have the lowest (She Figures, 2009:97).
In all the countries of Mediterranean basin considered here, one very conspicuous phenomenon is the underrepresentation of women in SET areas. There are, however, important variations among these countries concerning the peculiarities observed in this underrepresentation. It can also be argued that there is no direct correlation between horizontal and vertical segregation. In Spain, for instance, where horizontal segregation is the lowest, vertical segregation seems to be highly visible. There may be strong mechanisms in some countries to support women to enter higher education areas while the internal mechanisms of the academia may obstruct women’s acceleration in various scientific fields. Structural as well as cultural barriers of the university appear to be the major factors explaining the reproduction of traditional structures and patterns which support a masculine domination. (Meulders, et. al. 2010:103)
A closer look at some of the different patterns of participation offers clues for the understanding of the phenomenon as well as the improvement of policies for a more gender-balanced research population in the concerned areas. As a case in point, in the higher education sector we focused on, largest participation of female researchers were recorded in France and Turkey. This was contrary to the tendency observed in the EU-27 and the other Mediterranean countries where the proportion of female researchers is highest in the government sector. In the Higher Education Sector where there is a significant degree of segregation in terms of fields of study a more balanced distribution, also, by gender appear to be in Spain and Turkey. She Figures 2009 illustrate also that in some of these countries women are more prominently present in traditionally male fields. In engineering, for instance, the low proportions of female participation observed in Malta (8%), and Cyprus (17%) contrast with the much higher shares of women in Spain (35 %), Portugal, Turkey and Croatia (30% and over).
As for the representation of women in Grade A academic positions Turkey with 28% women, followed by Croatia with a 26% has reached the highest point among the Mediterranean countries studied here Turkey has the lowest Glass Ceiling Index value but also the lowest proportion of women (9%) in the decision making committees and leadership positions in the higher education sector.

Our thanks to Dr. Meltem BASLO for helping us to design and structure the paper.


Research on Gender Equality Policies in Science
by Maria Caprile, Sociologist, Director of Research, CIREM

The objective of Work Package 4 “Policies: state of the art, data collection and comparative analysis” of the SHEMERA project is to collect and analyze the existing gender equality policies in science in all the Southern Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia. The key programs and measures relating to women and science as well as the equal opportunities legislation will be identified and analysed from a comparative perspective, with the intention of monitoring progress and spreading best practices throughout all the countries.
In order to share a common understanding of concepts and methodological guidelines, a workshop was organised by CIREM in Barcelona on May 11 2012, which was addressed to the national experts in charge of the collection of national data.
A set of conceptual issues were first discussed. For the purposes of SHEMERA, ‘science’ is understood in its broadest sense, including social sciences and humanities as well as research and technological development. ‘Gender equality in science’ may refer to organisation issues (promoting women’s and men’s balanced presence in science) and/or content issues (mainstreaming sex and gender analysis into basic and applied research). ‘Gender equality policies in science’ refer to any kind of measure, programme or legislation aimed at promoting gender equality in science: It may be a national policy, but also a measure implemented in one single university.
Following Schiebinger (2008)[1], we differentiate between three policy approaches to gender equality in science:
–     Supporting women: supporting women’s educational opportunities and careers
–     Promoting institutional change: transforming structures and removing barriers
–     Mainstreaming gender in knowledge production: mainstreaming gender analysis into basic and applied research
The first of these approaches focuses on programs targeting women themselves in efforts to increase their participation in science. The second approach seeks to increase women‘s participation by reforming research institutions. The third focuses on overcoming gender bias by mainstreaming gender analysis into basic and applied research. These three approaches are interrelated: increasing women’s participation in science will not be successful without restructuring institutions and mainstreaming gender analysis into knowledge production.

Examples of gender equality policies are as follows:

Quotas and targets (e.g. in Italy, the National Research Council - (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche- CNR) aims to achieving 30% women representation in all CNR departments[2]);

Encouraging role models and mentors and earmarking chairs (e.g. in Ireland, Women In Technology and Science organises ‘Role Model Days’ to help girls choose a career in SET[3]);

Budgets and research funds for women (e.g. £6,000 scholarships for Women IT Students at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK[4]).

Gender Studies (e.g. The setting-up of the Moroccan Centre for Information, Documentation and Studies on Women -CMIDEF [5]).

Modernising human resource management (e.g. in Palestine-administered areas, the Ministry of Education has issued regulations allowing married women to take courses to complete their formal education [6]);

Gender-proofing science education pedagogy (e.g. a Jordanian research institution has conducted an analytic study of school curricula from a gender perspective, analyzing curriculum content in order to determine how gender roles are actually presented in school textbooks [7]);

Work/life balance measures (e.g. in Tunisia “the effective implementation, starting 1st January 2007 of the presidential decision (Law 2006-58) enables women to work part-time for two thirds of her salary, while retaining all the rights to promotion, to retirement and to social security benefits.”[8]);

Changing science’ - old fashion practices, peer review system (e.g. the Athena project in the United Kingdom (UK) targets scientific institutions by encouraging best practices in “the organisation and culture of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) employment and SET departments”[9]);

Changing the image of women (e.g. the UK resource centre for women in SET has a program for changing the image of women in TV dramas[10]).

Legislative measures (e.g. in Finland, there was an Amendment to the Act on Equality setting a minimum of 40% in representation of the sex in minority in scientific committees, government working groups, etc. in 1995[11]);

Ministries for Women or Gender Units in Ministries (e.g. The Jordan Ministry of Agriculture established a “gender unit” which has been working to mainstream a gender perspective within the Ministry[12]).

Research is now under way at the national level, based on documentary analysis and interviews. In order to collect and classify gender equality policies in science, various institutions and agencies are being researched: Science bodies (National Steering Committees on Women and Science; Women and Science Units in Government Departments); Universities; Research institutes; Academies; Legal frameworks. Documentary analysis is combined with interviews to key informants: Representatives of key institutions and agencies; Representatives of women and science associations; Gender experts. We expect to discuss the results of this work at the next project meeting, to be held at the beginning of 2013.

Advancing Gender and Science in Egypt: Outcomes of the Task Force Meetings
by Prof. Dr. Bahia Shaheen, Professor, Faculty of Arts and Dr. Sara Hanafy, Research Program Officer, Alexandria University

In recognition to advancing the status of women in science, Egypt is constantly supporting all efforts aimed at increasing women’s access to education and employment, and encouraging them to break into the areas of scientific research and technology. SHEMERA project in Egypt is a promising initiative to give a clearer picture of the situation of women in Science in its broadest sense, including social sciences and humanities as well as research and technological development. Accordingly, paving more channels for new policies for advancing women in all science fields.

The objective of workpackage WP6 “Networking: activities to enhance awareness and policy debate” in SHEMERA project is to enhance awareness and policy debate on gender and science issues in the Mediterranean area, by involving the main players at the national level and promoting the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue of gender-sensitive scientific associations. Recommendations will be developed for policy-makers aimed at enhancing the presence of women in scientific research and technological development at all levels and ensuring a better integration of the gender dimension in research policy.

The Egyptian Task Force on Gender and Science was established by Alexandria University composed of high level representatives of higher education and RTD organizations, governmental bodies as well as top representatives of gender-sensitive scientific associations who were directly approached. The aim of the task force is to enhancing gender awareness and debate on women in different forms of science, and enhance their commitment to gender equality in science.

The task force is lead by Prof. Sedik Abdel Salam - Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, Alexandria University, who confirmed his willingness to provide support and facilitate all project’s activities. The supportive task force members are representatives from different scientific and professional backgrounds from various governorates in Egypt, for example; Prof. Mahmoud El Khishen, Vice-President for Community Development and Environmental Affairs, Alexandria University, Prof. Essam Khamis, President of City of Scientific Researches & Technological Applications (SRTA-CITY), Prof. Hanaa El-Sayaad, Strategic Planning Unit- Ministry of Higher Education, Prof. Hala El-Saeed, Dean of Faculty of Economics and Political Science- Cairo University , Prof. Rashika El-Ridi- L’Oreal-UNESCO award winner , Faculty of Science- Cairo University, Eng. Hoda El-Mikaty ,Director- Planetarium Science Centre at Library of Alexandria , Prof. Shaden Abdel-Gawad, President-National Water Research Center (NWRC). Faculty staff members also joined us like : Prof. Nawal Kalafallah, Faculty of Pharmacy – Alexandria University, Prof. Mona El-Masry, Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University and Prof. Omima El Gebaly , Faculty of Medicine, Medicine, Assuit University. Moreover, representatives from governmental bodies were; Central Agency for Organization and Administration, Directorate of Education in Alexandria – Ministry of Education, Women Program at Alexandria Zone of Ministry of Youth and Sports, Western and Middle Delta Region for Cultural Zone- Ministry of Culture, Central Zone for State Information Service and Media.

First Task Force Meeting held on 10th December 2011, was inaugurated by an introductory presentation about the SHEMERA project followed by a panel discussion to: discuss the members’ role in the project, identify possible ways of collaboration and to explore different ideas and effective channels for communication and sharing information on gender and science issues in Egypt.

 Recommendations taken were:
- Encouraging young undergraduate females to pursue their career in science fields and/or proceed to post graduate studies. Universities should adopt mentoring programs focusing on successful women (Role Models ) who involved in different scientific careers, such as the L'OREAL Award winners for Women in Science.
- At the school level, scientific culture should be integrated and disseminated in school curricula particularly for secondary schools. Moreover, teachers play a key role in encouraging female students to access different scientific studies as well as in addressing role models of women in the communities.
- Coordinating with pre-university gender policies per type of education (general, vocational and technical).
- Representatives from Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Youth and Sports emphasized the role of science clubs in cultural palaces and youth clubs distributed in all governorates to advocate interesting science-related activities and information targeted to young girls.
- Director of Planetarium Science Centre at Library of Alexandria also highlighted the ongoing collaborative initiative between the library and science clubs in schools through science festivals and activities for students.
- The role of “Scientific Press” was promoted by representatives from the State Information Service and Media . All forms of media (TV, daily newspapers) could deliver friendly-science messages to females in a step to enhance the scientific culture.

Second Task Force Meeting held on 17th November, 2012
Prof. Bahia Shaheen, summarized the progress achieved in the Work Packages of SHEMERA project in Egypt, specifically for the three pillars WP3: Statistics , WP4: Polices and WP5: Literature, In addition to an overview of the proceedings and recommendations of the first Task Force meeting.

A presentation was given out by Dr. Sara Hanafy on (Women in Science: Egypt Current Situation). The first part of presentation was an overview of WP3: statistical data with explanations from WP5: literature review. The second part highlighted key role models of the Egyptian women and girls as follows:

“Seeded by Merit Ptah (2700 B.C) the first woman named in the ancient history of science - entitled "chief physician”, the achievements record of the Egyptian women and girls in science, is constantly growing. In the early 90s, the outstanding  Sameera Moussa (1917-1952), was the first nuclear woman scientist with PhD in atomic radiation. Later, the three UNESCO-L’Oreal Foundation award Winners for Women in Science; Karimat El-Sayed (2003), first Arab woman pioneered in Crystallography and solid state Physics, Nagwa Abdel Meguid (2002), pioneer in molecular genetics who described several novel genetic syndromes and Rashika El Ridi (2010), pioneer immunologist who paved the way towards the development of a vaccine against bilharzia. In addition to the academic advances , the economic area also witnessed during the past years a strong demand from Egyptian women to enter new areas in industry, electronics, information technology and communications, pharmaceuticals and to be also engaged in investment projects as well as establishing business women associations , which contributed to their economic empowerment. One must admit that Egyptian women were and are still demonstrating their effective and productive capabilities to be in the front rows and making important contributions to the development of their country.”

Panel discussion floor was opened with the participants regarding the WP4 questionnaire to assess their views on the current polices serving women in academic and non-academic fields of sciences. Policy approaches to gender equality in science were discussed regarding: Supporting women (supporting women’s educational opportunities and careers) and Promoting institutional change (transforming structures and removing barriers).

Some future policies & strategies for supporting Gender Equality were suggested:
  1. More flexible University study programs and more support for female students from poor families.
  2. Higher education institutions could target  girls’ friendly context.
  3. Encouraging female Students in applied fields of science through support grants.
  4. Promoting flexible work/balance options to support women’s educational opportunities and careers, especially for female postgraduates to be interpreted into the higher academic hierarchy.

Upheavals can pave the way to restoration
by Elena Gagliasso, Philosopher of Science - La Sapienza University, Rome - Italy

In the Mediterranean basin unexpected geopolitical scenarios are unraveling and both Southern Europe and North African Countries are experiencing difficulties and a state of openness to change.
Along the Northern coasts, stand those countries sarcastically called PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) that are the butt of financial speculation on the virtual market (Europe’s Shame is the title of a poem about Greece that the Nobelist Gunter Grass wrote in 2012 speaking directly to Europe dominated by bankers).

On the other side, sixty years after the breaking out of bloody wars of independence against colonialism, Southern Mediterranean Countries are trying to manage with a critical political situation triggered by the 2011 Arab Spring that seem to be turning in a “harsh winter”.  Nevertheless, despite troubles, skepticism and fear of historical recurrences, the currently unfolding dynamics are not the same that brought to power theocratic dictatorships instead of military regimes, in the past decades. But history never repeats itself: rather Western analytic categories have become ineffective since West itself is getting through an identity crisis, even harsher than the economic one.
So, in the Mediterranean region a transformative process of transition is developing as already occurred some other times in the past.

The Mediterranean region has always been a troubled area, the only exception seeming to be the Cold War period, during which it was a military base of one of the two dominating Superpowers. But we all know that upheavals bring changes and restoration processes that have to be tracked down as they rise because of their fragility and uncertainty.

Today, Mediterranean women are main actors of this process. Not Greek, Italian, Egyptian or Maghreb women as such  but rather as part of a group with distinctive features making them differentiate from their foremothers. Indeed, they are able to relate tradition to modernity and to manage with troubled situations.

They have been able to gain room for manoeuvre and access to corridors of power. They have been brave enough to denounce corruption even at cost of their own lives. They are more independent than it might seem but they are also able to emphasize positive aspects of tradition. They are able to face economic and geopolitical troubles and to build solidarity networks with the aim of caring for others rather than fighting them.
In this new context, women are making significant steps forward in the world of research and their representation is much higher than it was in the past century. Nevertheless, this phenomena rises a series questions about future prospects.

People say that “science has changed the world” but what changes will women involvement in scientific research bring in? Moreover, interaction between world economic and political dynamics really effect science and a growing number of women is working in universities, research institutions and laboratories scattered all over the world and not only in Northern Europe and America.  Despite the persisting gender inequality gap, are still women behind men scientists? Or are they reaching a more and more leading and effective role, as Bice Fubini (University of Torino - Italy) wrote? If so, as the growing number of women Nobelists seems demonstrating, what will be the consequences of these new circumstances, also considering the world economic crisis and the political transformation of Middle East and North Africa? How will the growing difficulties of research activities in Southern Mediterranean Countries and the “scientific renaissance” of other emerging states such as Morocco and Turkey impact women’s employment levels and their economic independence?

Women in this part of the world, both veiled or wearing miniskirts,  are among those people exercising the right and duty to practice critical exploration and the method of doubt that can lead them to acquire the “scientific citizenship”.
Monotheisms born in the Mediterranean region have generally fixed women’s role as mares and nurses. How will the new position women are acquiring in the world of research impact culture? What will be the consequences of the spread of their critical thought throughout society?

On the Mediterranean seabed hundreds of thousands of bodies lie buried. They were refugees, exiled people that crossed it to escape from their countries devastated by wars or famine: those people we today call “immigrants”. Today, scientific research can be put at the service of “Peacekeeping Operations”  to work out sustainable development rather than armaments development. Women will be main actors of this processes and if financial actors will be able of shaping long-term rather than short-term strategies, oasis of knowledge and positive engagement will bloom within the Mediterranean region.

Science represents an opportunity for sustainable development and peace for all people living along Mediterranean shores. The number of women, capable of creative and original expression within the scientific community and in Mediterranean countries, has grown. Women do not represent an abstract category but rather real people in the flesh, with their own personal experiences and an individual personalities. This is why every issue of the Shemera project e-newsletter offers “portraits” (brief biographical profiles) of three researchers who have all contributed, and continue to do so, in making science an opportunity for sustainable development and peace in their countries and in the entire Mediterranean region.

by Pietro Greco, Science Writer, Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza

Nadia Gaar Nada
Nadia Gada Naar is 45 years old and is the Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi Ouzou, Algeria. She teaches literature and, in particular, how literature defines the role of women in modern and post-colonial Algeria.

Nadia was born in Béni Douala and received her degree in English in 1990. She went on to receive a Magister in English (African and Comparative Literature) and she is preparing a PhD in Comparative Literature.
During her studies, she worked first as an English and Literature teacher in Secondary Schools. From 1990 to 2000 she was the Assistant Professor in the Arabic Department at the University of Mouloud Mammeri and since 2002 she has been Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of  Tizi Ouzou, where she teaches Literary Theory and Comparative Literature.
As a researcher, she is particularly interested in the Algerian woman and her role in the history of the country, as it emerges in both literature and in every day real life. She is also a member of the Research Team “Gender, Resistance and Negotiation”. Yet, Nadia Gada Naar, along with her colleagues, has set a much more general objective that is to teach her students respect for cultural diversity, to help victims of all types of abuse and to fight for the recognition and respect of human rights as well as fight against the sexual exploitation of women.
Nadia’s effort is both cultural and political. She states, “As a militant and activist in local Cultural Associations, I work with my students and friends get equal rights for men and women and to help stop violence against women. My work is carried out through conferences and study days to make people aware of the dangers of the Family Code in Algeria. We work for the promotion of the status of women in Algeria and beyond. Our approach aims to achieve equality and the participation of women in all domains”.
Gender Politics in Rachid Mimouni’s Le fleuve Détourné

Mary Kaileh
Mary Kaileh, 48 years old, is a Palestinian bio-chemist. She epitomizes the internationalization of science.

Mary obtained her B.Sc. degree from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestine. She then continued her studies in Belgium with Professor Guy Haegeman at the Laboratory for Eukaryotic Gene Expression and Signal Transduction (LEGEST), Department of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, Ghent University, Gent, where, in 2006, she received a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Thereafter she moved to Baltimore, Maryland (USA), where she currently works as a Research Fellow at the National Institute on Aging, a component of the National Institutes of Health.
Mary’s graduate thesis was entitled “Isolation and characterization of a new class of NF-κB inhibitors, present in Withania somnifera from Palestine”. The defense of her Ph.D. thesis was unusual event because it was done at Birzeit University in Palestine. The thesis defense committee members traveled from Belgium to Palestine to hear her, the first time this was ever done in the history of both Ghent and Birzeit Universities. This event was the result of a collaboration between the universities in both the North and South Mediterranean and was covered by the media in Palestine, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Following receipt of the Ph.D. degree, Mary Kaileh moved to the United States (to Baltimore) to continue her studies on the NF-κB transcription factor, a large and complex protein found in all types of cells.
NF-κB function is particularly important in the study of human health because of its involvement in the immune responses to infections. In particular, Kaileh is studying the relationship between the NF-κB factor and corticosteroids, some of the most widely-used anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for diverse diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and certain kinds of cancer. She has made some very important hypotheses on this relationship, and now in the process of verifying them empirically. “I am poised to carry out the definitive experiments in the near future”, she says. We wait, confident in her.

Rachel Hobeika
Rachel Hobeika is married and manages the Math Department at the Lebanese University (Faculty of Sciences Section II, Fanar Campus) and is the President of the “Lebanese Society for the Mathematical Sciences”.

She was born in Lebanon in 1973 and graduated with a degree in mathematics from the Université Libanaise. The following year she received the DEA (Diplôme d'Études Approfondies) from the University of Paris VI, where she also received her PhD in 1976. When she returned to Lebanon, she immediately began teaching math at the university. In 1996 she became an assistant professor in the Faculty of Sciences Section II Fanar Campus at the Lebanese University. During these years she also carried out management and coordination activities for the Faculty. In 2008 she became the director of the Mathematics Department, one of the five departments that make up the Faculty of Sciences at the Lebanese University. Located on the modern Fanar campus, with thirty teachers that are also researchers and over 700 students attending a five-year degree or PhD program, the Mathematics Department plays a very important role in the scientific culture of Lebanon and the entire Middle East. Since Rachel Hobeika’s background is purely mathematic, her scientific interests regard mathematics applied to physics and, in particular, to optics. In fact, she mainly studies the diffusion of light in dielectric materials.     
In the last few months, Rachel Hobeika attained another two important acknowledgements for the work she has carried out. This past July she was called to preside over the “Lebanese Society for the Mathematical Sciences” conference and in August she was nominated a member of the executive committee of the Lebanese University full-time professors League (professeurs cadrés).

International Cooperation Projects and Events
by Michaela Riccio, Giulia D’Argenio, Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza.

Promoting Women Entrepreneurship in Universities: a new UfM labeled project
In September 2011, the Division of Social and Civil Affairs of the Union for Mediterranean has labeled a the project “Facilitating the access of young women to work, by promoting entrepreneurship in universities” which will benefit women in Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and Spain. It promotes self-employment and entrepreneurship among young women university students, through the organization of different Women Entrepreneurship Days, and by providing them with free advice to create new businesses. The project will be promoted by the Association of Organizations of Mediterranean Business Women (AFAEMME).
Go to the website

In Partnership with Women: Empowerment Through Action
In Partnership with Women is a series of programs supported by the European Union aiming to reach female empowerment in different non-EU countries and it is part of the European External Action. The EU is working in the Mediterranean region too, through actions in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Croatia.
“Spirit of Tahrir” Initiative - Egypt
This initiative has been launched within the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument - Global Allocation to Cultural Cooperation. It wants to improve awareness about the recent upheavals and their importance for Egypt’s future. Among its objectives, the initiative aims at actively supporting women’s activists and gender civil society organizations by funding a wide range of actions. Projects currently being supported in the country focus on the issues of women leadership and participation in elections, the enhancement of marginalized women’s enjoyment of economic rights.   
New FESTA - Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia. Bruno Kessler Foundation, Trento
Under the coordination of the University of Uppsala (Sweden), FBK is working together with research institutes and universities from other five European countries to initiate changes within its working environment to the effect that female researchers' qualities be fully acknowledged and suitably promoted in it. Aim of the he project, funded under FP7, is to detect practices that possibly lead to gender discrimination in everyday working life (formal and informal decision making processes, meeting cultures, PhD supervision, etc.), and to propose, implement, and test alternatives to them. FESTA project: February 2012-January 2017   


6th Annual Alexandria Business Women’s Association (ABWA) Conference
17th November 2012, Alexandria, Egypt

In recognition of the emerging role of women entrepreneurs in the Egyptian workplace, the 6th annual Alexandria Business Women’s Association (ABWA) Conference in collaboration with USAID was held on 17th November 2012. This year’s conference “6th Businesswomen Day: Entrepreneurship and Investment for Egypt’s Economic Future”, addressed the role of women entrepreneurs in Egypt and the ways to resolve the obstacles preventing women from participating and succeeding in business, offered mentoring sessions and provided an opportunity for women entrepreneurs to network with Egyptian investors.
About 170 participants from Alexandria, Cairo, USA, Germany , Iraqi and Tunisia attended the conference . Keynotes was given by distinguished guest speakers; U.S.A Consul General to Alexandria, Head of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Founder and Managing Director of JETS group in Germany, President of Iraqi Business Women Association and Prof. Bahia Shaheen, Head of Alexandria branch of National Council for Women (NCW) who is also the Principle Investigator of SHEMERA project at Alexandria University (AU). Prof. Shaheen emphasized the continuous efforts of the NCW to nurture the capabilities of Egyptian business women especially the marginalized women to enjoy their economic and social rights and to start small-scale business projects.

The Fourteenth Mediterranean Research Meeting - Mersin University, Turkey.
20 – 23 March 2013
This conference is organized by the European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies in collaboration with Mersin University (Turkey). It is committed to fostering theoretical and empirical research and dialogue among scholars from Mediterranean countries , covering the region as widely as possible; to focusing on legal, historical, economic and socio-political issues; to enabling junior scholars to meet the more senior in an interactive environment, to promote their collaboration and, finally to encouraging the publication and dissemination of this research.
Go to the website

[1]All except Croatia, Slovenia were included in the group of Southern countries in the Meta-analysis of gender and science research project (7th FP RTD-PP-L4-2007-1) for providing practical advantages, in terms of nearness of countries and cross-national similarities in the extent of women’s employment attachment over the life-course, full-time and part-time work, gender occupational segregation and gender pay gap, at least partially interrelated with welfare regimes. 7th FP Meta-analysis of gender and science research, Project Methodology
[2]Only in Greece, the difference in growth rates of men is slightly higher.

IN FOCUS References
[1] Meulders, D., Plasman, R., Rigo, A., O’Dorchai, S. Topic report Horizontal and vertical segregation, Meta-analysis of gender and science research, 2010, 7th FP http:/
[2] Reis, A. L., Rosa Valente, M. J., Amâncio, L., Patrício, T., Santos, C., Silva, L. & H. Araújo Costa. Women and science: Review of the situation in Portugal, European Commission, Helsinki Group, Bruxelles, 2001.
[3] She Figures. Statistics and Indicators on Gender Equality in Science, 2009.
[4] United Nations. The World's Women 2010: Trends and Statistics, 2010.
[6] United Nations. Economic and Social Council Commission on the Status of Women Draft agreed conclusions, 2011, E/CN.6/2011/L.6


[1] Schiebinger, L. 2008, ‘Getting More Women into Science and Engineering — Knowledge Issues’ in L. Schiebinger, ed. Gendered Innovations in Science and Engineering, Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp. 1-21.
[2], see ‘Attivita’
[7] Report by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the General Assembly (2000), available online,, accessed 22/12/09
[11] Kurki, H. et al.(2000-01) Women And Science: Review of the situation in Finland,  Finnish national report for the Helsinki Group on Women and Science.
[12] Report by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the General Assembly (2000), available online,, accessed 22/12/09

Cover images refer to the scientific research of one of the women scientists presented in the issue's portraits.
Withania somnifera is a medicinal plant studied by Mary Kaileh. The name of the plant is Withania somnifera, and the chemical structure on the plant is the structure of the active compound that was isolated from the Withania somnifera. The compound is called Withaferin A.

Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza, Naples (Italy)
Anne - Marie Bruyas, Pietro Greco, Michaela Riccio, Giulia D'Argenio, Flavia Zucco
Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza, Naples (Italy)
Attilio Iannitto, Gabriele Nosso