Diversity within the Advisors
The credibility of the Advisors is built on the balance of qualities and experience amongst the women and men who make up the group. Collectively, they reflect the breadth of the research community across Europe.
Consideration is also given to younger, next-generation leaders.
Diversity within SAPEA
SAPEA focuses particularly on maintaining and improving the diversity of experts who join our working groups from across Europe. In the period from 2016 to mid-2023, we drew on the scientific expertise of:
- 187 working group members
- 55 peer reviewers
- 261 expert workshop participants
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.
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.
Across all our working groups, we have targets for gender representation. In 2016–2023, we focused particularly on the participation of women. 41% of working group members were female, drawing from a pool of nominations in which 33% were female.
For the future, we have set a target of not more than 60% of any one gender across our working groups.
The data we use for the gender identity of our working group members is based on publicly available information. We recognise and respect gender diversity, and we provide working group members with the opportunity to self-identify their gender.
Early- and mid-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 more early- and mid-career researchers in our activities.
Our experts are drawn almost entirely from Europe: from 2016 to mid-2023, 99% of working group members worked in Europe. (‘Europe’ here means the 46 countries covered by the Council of Europe, plus Israel.)
From 2016 to mid-2023, we received nominations for experts working in 40 different countries in Europe and 11 beyond. This resulted in working group members working in 26 different countries in Europe and 11 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 so-called ‘Widening’ countries. As defined by the European Commission, Widening countries are countries with a low participation rate in Horizon Europe projects. From 2016 to mid-2023, 18% of our experts from EU countries were from Widening countries.
The accompanying graphs show two other data points, for context: the share of European researchers working in Widening countries (26%), and the share of Horizon research funding taken up by Widening countries (10%).
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 and broaden geographical representation.
These figures partly refer to the period when the UK was an EU country. For this reason, the figures for non-Widening countries include the UK.
Working group members who are not fellows of academies
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 fellow (member) of an academy in order to join our working groups.